This compehensive and yet enthralling study traces the outcome of the vision of a few councillors in the 1860s for an art gallery for Liverpool, from the initial idea through to national status and funding in 1986. The gift of a splendid gallery in 1873 by the Mayor, the brewer Andrew Barclay Walker, for the city's annual Autumn Exhibitions of contemporary art and a yet-to-be-formed permanent collection ensured initial success. These profitable exhibitions financed some famous modern art purchases.
In the 1930s a substantial bequest by Lord Wavertree, Walker's son, gave the gallery the resources to buy historic British art as well. Further donations financed the gallery's extension making it the largest English municipal art gallery. The gift by the Liverpool Royal Institution in 1948 of the superb early Italian and Netherlandish paintings acquired nearly 150 years earlier by William Roscoe, the architect of Liverpool's culture, encouraged the gallery to begin acquiring European old master paintings. The John Moores Liverpool exhibitions, launched in 1957, and the Peter Moores Liverpool Projects brought outstanding contemporary art to Merseyside. In 1978 the Walker's amalgamation with the Lady Lever Art Gallery at nearby Port Sunlight brought a comparably important collection, immensely rich in British paintings, sculpture, furniture and Chinese ceramics.
This unofficial history analyses both the Walker Art Gallery's successes and failures and the personalities of those who developed it into an outstanding and much loved gallery.
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Dimensions: 15.1 x 21 x 2.2cm
Publisher: Sansom & Company