Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum has acquired an important post-war landscape painting thanks to a government scheme.
Bideford, Devon 1946 was painted by David Bomberg (1890 to 1957) who is now widely acknowledged to be one of the most important British painters of the 20th century. Sadly he achieved recognition only after death. Not until 1967 was the first major exhibition of his work held at the Tate Gallery. His late landscape paintings are forceful, free and expressive, with vigorous brushmarks. He believed that his paint marks should embody his individual response to the landscape which he described as ‘the spirit in the mass’.
Despite the title of the painting, the location is actually several miles north of Bideford. From a hill, the view looks westward from Instow across the estuary of the rivers Taw and Torridge to the sea beyond. Continuing a Tour of Devon tradition started by JMW Turner and Thomas Girtin some 150 years earlier, Bomberg camped at Instow with his wife in 1946.
RAMM acquired the painting through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme administered by the MLA (Museums Libraries and Archives Council). The scheme allows owners of valuable works of art to offer them to the Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax or Estate Duty. An expert panel then decides whether or not the work is of ‘pre-eminent’ significance. If so, a value is agreed with the owner and museums apply for allocation on a competitive basis.
As the county and regional collection, the RAMM holds several hundred representations of the Devon landscape and is particularly strong in late 18th and 19th century works. RAMM aims to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how Devon’s varied landscape has inspired artists by extending this strength to more recent artists, like Bomberg. This new acquisition will allow Bomberg’s powerful, expressive vision of the Devon landscape to be displayed along with his historical predecessors.
(from a press release)
(image: Bideford by David Bomber, part of the RAMM’s collection)