Archives & Library

The Leicester Galleries and its Exhibition Catalogues

The Leicester Galleries was a commercial art gallery that operated in central London between 1902 and 1977. It was particularly known for exhibiting British and French artists’ work and for promoting the work of leading modernist painters and sculptors. The Centre’s Library holds one-third of the gallery’s entire output of 1,400 exhibition catalogues, donated by Peter and Renate Nahum in January 2020. The collection is fully catalogued and available for research. This spotlight feature highlights some of the key artists and themes promoted by the gallery and illustrates some of the catalogues in the Library’s holdings.

London in the early years of the century was notoriously slow to appreciate modern French art. However, throughout the 1920s, the Leicester Galleries, in part due to productive relationships with Parisian dealers, put on solo shows of French and other European artists’ work. Many of these artists, such as Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse, had their first British solo exhibitions at the gallery. The collection contains the majority of the catalogues of these European artists including those of: Henri Matisse (283) in 1919; Camille Pissarro in 1920 (296); Pablo Picasso in 1921 (309); Vincent van Gogh (363) and the sculpture of Edgar Degas (348) in 1923; Paul Gauguin in 1924 (376); Paul Cézanne (395) and Odilon Redon (387) in 1925; Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1926 (418); Oskar Kokoschka in 1928 (460); and Berthe Morisot in 1930 (493). Many of these artists went on to have subsequent exhibitions at the gallery during the 1920s and beyond.