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.

Foreign Artists and the War

In 1915, the gallery put on the exhibition French Artists and the War (218), in which most of the art was made by artists serving in the war and much of it was sent by men fighting in the trenches. The Ministry of Information supported artists in the forces and officially helped the Leicester Galleries exhibit their work, helping with transportation of pictures by Belgian and Italian artists. The Library’s copy of the catalogue of Italian Artists and the War (231) contains a newspaper cutting titled: “Italian War Pictures: Grim Feeling and Terrible Wit”. This suggests that “Anyone wishing to avoid excitement had better avoid the exhibition now on view at the Leicester Galleries”. This large exhibition, filling three of the gallery’s four rooms, included an image of the Murder of Miss Cavell.