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New acquisitions through the Cultural Gifts Scheme

Two intricate collages by the artist John Bingley Garland (1791-1875) known as 'The Blood Collages' and a pen and ink pen drawing of the 'Head of Bardolph' by John Hamilton Mortimer have been acquired for the nation through the Cultural Gifts Scheme, which is administered by the Arts Council, and allocated to The Fitzwilliam Museum.

John Bingley Garland’s best-known work was a gift from himself to his daughter Amy: an album of collages. The album has been colloquially named ‘The Blood Book’ because of the intricate collages adorned with droplets of carefully applied red paint which look like blood. The two collages to be gifted to the Fitzwilliam were from a collection of works that are thought to have been intended to make up another album, much like ‘The Blood Book’, but they were never bound together. The collages of engravings and gold paper, dating around 1850, engage with religious themes and the annotations embedded within them reveal a sophisticated degree of intellectual thought. The works themselves were donated by former Director of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Tim Knox, who expressed a wish that they be allocated to the Museum.

John Hamilton Mortimer’s 'Head of Bardolph' is a preparatory drawing made by the artist for his series of engravings depicting 12 characters from Shakespeare. The drawing depicts the soldier and thief Bardolph, who appears in Henry IV Part One and Part Two, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry V. He is the subject of ridicule for his unsightly facial features: his swollen, red nose and carbuncle-covered face. The drawings were new in their approach to illustrating Shakespeare as they focused on specific characters rather than scenes with Mortimer using his own interpretation of the text to imagine their appearances.

The Cultural Gifts Scheme (CGS) enables UK taxpayers to donate important works to the nation receiving a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the object they are donating. Together with the Acceptance In Lieu scheme, cases worth nearly £54 million were accepted for the nation this year.

Today (10 December 21), Arts Council England have published their annual report on the schemes, highlighting the fantastic works which have entered public collections thanks to the these schemes.

Image: One of The Blood Collages by John Bingley Garland.

10 December 2021

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