John Blyth Collection of 116 paintings, acquired in 1963 with an NFA grant of £2,000; oil painting, Attack by Sir Robin Philipson, acquired in 1965 with a grant of £157.10s; oil painting, Hillside, Auchtertool, 1969, by Ian Lawson, acquired in 1969 with a grant of £17.10s; oil painting, The Birthplace of Dr Thomas Chalmers, Anstruther, 1834, by A McDougall, acquired in 1973 with a grant of £29; three oil paintings, Interieur Noir, 1950, by William Gear, Still Life with Goblet by Elizabeth Blackadder and Satan Watching the Sleep of Christ, 1874, by Sir Joseph Noel Paton, acquired in 1974 with grants of £137.50, £102.50 and £850 respectively; oil painting, Apocalypse II, c1982, by Neil Dallas Brown, acquired in 1982 with a grant of £700; oil painting, Rain Clouds Over the Forth, 1984-6, by John Houston, acquired in 1988 with a grant of £1,350; and oil painting, Fent, 2010, by Alison Watt, acquired in 2012 with a grant of £7,000.
The 60th anniversary of the National Fund for Acquisitions has provided the perfect opportunity to display some of the artworks Fife Council Museums has bought with the NFA’s help. Kirkcaldy Galleries is currently displaying nine of these paintings by artists such as Sir Robin Philipson, John Houston, Elizabeth Blackadder and Neil Dallas Brown.
The re-hanging of one painting in particular has delighted the front of house staff – Satan Watching the Sleep of Christ. Painted by Sir Joseph Noel Paton in 1874, it depicts a brooding and somewhat menacing Satan sitting above a sleeping Christ. Christ, dressed in a gown and robes, is painted with his face swathed in light, appearing peaceful and serene. Satan, wearing a crown of fire, is perched on rocks as he glares at Christ beneath him.
The NFA has helped us acquire objects for our collections since 1962. One of the biggest and most influential purchases made with the assistance of the Fund was the John Blyth Collection. Blyth was a Kirkcaldy linen manufacturer and an avid collector of art, particularly the works of William McTaggart and S J Peploe. He also collected works by the Glasgow Boys, the Camden Town Group, William Gillies and even L S Lowry. Over the years Blyth lent paintings to the Art Gallery (partly because he ran out of space at home!) and when he died in 1963 over half his collection was hanging in the Gallery. After some negotiation it was agreed that Kirkcaldy Town Council would buy 116 paintings from the family for the town. The NFA and the Art Fund helped Kirkcaldy to acquire the works. Without this acquisition, Kirkcaldy Galleries would not have the fantastic art collection it has today. Some of the paintings from the Blyth Collection are included in the permanent displays at Kirkcaldy Galleries.
Fortunately, with the NFA’s help we can continue to collect significant works with connections to Fife and enhance our collection. The exhibition of nine artworks bought with assistance from the NFA continues until 17th November 2014.
Fife Cultural Trust