The Leicester Galleries and Its Exhibition Catalogues

  • 4 May 2021

The new online feature, The Leicester Galleries and its Exhibition Catalogues, looks at the history of the Leicester Galleries through the lens of its exhibition catalogues. The library’s collection of these catalogues was donated to the Centre in January 2020 by Peter and Renate Nahum. Consisting of 450 catalogues, many of which are annotated, the collection amounts to approximately a third of the total output of the gallery.

The Leicester Galleries was a pioneering gallery particularly known for exhibiting British and French artists’ work and for promoting the work of leading modernist painters and sculptors. It was the venue that hosted the first British solo exhibitions of many European artists including Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Using the catalogues in our collection, this feature focuses on four areas of the Leicester Galleries’ exhibition history. It looks at the years before 1914, when painting, illustration and caricature were mainstays of the gallery’s programme. It deals with exhibitions during the First World War, when the gallery tackled the subject of the conflict itself by exhibiting the art of serving soldiers from France, Belgium and Italy, and presenting the work of official war artists such as C. R. W. Nevinson, Paul Nash and Eric Kennington. It considers the 1920s, when the gallery promoted the work of French and other European artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne. Finally, it covers the Leicester Galleries’ promotion of the work of sculptors such as Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Henry Moore and Dora Gordine.

The feature is lavishly illustrated throughout, with images of the catalogues, as well as complete digital facsimiles of four exhibition catalogues.

The collection is fully catalogued on the library catalogue and is available to consult in the Centre’s Public Study Room.