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.

Illustration

In this period, the gallery put on a number of exhibitions of illustrators’ work. These were very popular with the public. There were almost annual exhibitions of the work of Arthur Rackham between 1905 and 1919, and of Edmund Dulac between 1907 and 1915. The catalogue for one of the Rackham shows is in the collection (148); the Library has two of the catalogues for Dulac’s exhibitions (82, 112).

According to Oliver Brown,

the public loved the work of book illustrators so much in the earlier years of the century that we began to look for others, and it was not long before we met a young Frenchman who had come to live in England, Edmund Dulac, who became a very good friend of ours and made many illustrations for books in full colour. We first showed his drawings for The Arabian Nights in 1907. … The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám was one of his early successes.

The exhibition of watercolours illustrating The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (112) ran concurrently with one of illustrations by William Lee Hankey. The joint catalogue for both exhibitions is unillustrated, and items 21–64 relate to Dulac. Items 41–64 are “Lyrics, Pathetic and Humourous, from A to Z”, where each item is a letter of the alphabet with a limerick attached.

Opened book cover

Ernest Brown & Phillips (1909), Water-Colours Illustrating “Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám” , by Edmund Dulac, and Water-Colours Illustrating Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village”, by W. Lee Hankey, Exhibition catalogue. London: Ernest Brown & Phillips, The Leicester Galleries (Exhibition, 112).