Throughout its lifetime, the National Galleries of Scotland has received the support of many generous donors. Some of the most significant support we have received has been through gifts in wills.
In 2011 the National Galleries of Scotland received an extremely generous legacy from Miss Mary Bowman. Mary had been a Friend of the National Galleries of Scotland for many years and enjoyed attending Friends events. Her sister, Isobel, told us of an event at which James Holloway, the Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, had spoken to Mary when she had been standing alone and how welcome he had made her feel. As a result of this kindness and Mary’s fondness for the Portrait Gallery in particular she decided to leave a legacy to the Portrait Gallery, helping to support its recent renovation.
Henry Vaughan was an enthusiastic collector of art, especially prints and drawings by JMW Turner. When he died in 1899 he bequeathed 38 works by Turner to the National Galleries of Scotland. Vaughan was aware of the importance of conserving watercolours, which can easily fade if over-exposed, and requested that the pieces only be exhibited during January. Vaughan’s wishes were respected and for over a century Turner in January has become a much-loved Edinburgh tradition. As a result of their limited exposure to light, these works are renowned for their excellent state of preservation.
James Cowan Smith Bequest
In 1919 Mr James Cowan Smith bequeathed the generous sum of £55,000 to the National Galleries of Scotland. His bequest had two conditions: the first that the Gallery provide for his dog Fury, who survived him; the second that John Emms’ picture of his previous dog Callum should always be hung in the Gallery. The Galleries were diligent in fulfilling both conditions, and although Fury is long since dead, Callum can still be found hanging in the National Gallery in memory of his owner. This significant fund has formed an important trust fund for acquisitions, allowing the Galleries to purchase pieces by Goya, Chardin and Constable.
Henry and Sula Walton
Renowned Edinburgh-based psychiatrists, Henry and Sula Walton spent their lifetime amassing an incredible collection of art from all around the world. This collection ranges from early Chinese pottery to a £15 Joan Eardley painting, and centres particularly on printmaking. The Waltons believed that art was a necessity in everyone’s life and were a driving force behind Art in Healthcare, which aims to improve the experience of patients in Scottish hospitals with visual art. It is entirely in keeping with their ethos that their art collection is now accessible at the Gallery of Modern Art since their donation in 2010.
Sir Denis Mahon
At the beginning of 2012 the National Gallery of Scotland received eight Italian baroque masterpieces through a bequest made by Sir Denis Mahon. This set, comprised of pieces by Corrado Giaquinto, Andrea Locatelli, Giovanni Antonio, Salvator Rosa, Andrea Sacchi and Francesco Solimena, was given on the condition that admission to see the paintings must always remain free. An art historian and scholar, Sir Denis strongly supported galleries throughout his life and believed that they should be accessible to all. This gift was part of Mahon’s 57 piece collection of Italian baroque paintings, which all went to British galleries after his death at the age of 100 in 2011.