Nottingham City Museums secures grant funding and public donations to buy last-known portrait of D. H. Lawrence

Through generous external grant funding and public donations, Nottingham City Museums has been able to buy the last-known portrait painting of the famous Nottinghamshire born writer, D. H. Lawrence and is announcing programme in collaboration with Nottingham City Libraries.

With thanks to funding from V & A, Arts Council England Lottery Funding, Heritage Fund and support from D. H. Lawrence Society and Friends of Nottingham City Museums who also donated, the painting is now a collection object in Nottingham City Museums. Since its acquisition, the Nottingham City Museums curatorial team, colleagues in Nottingham City Libraries and partners have been working to deliver a related programme of events and activities aiming to give visitors access to the painting, through one of its popular heritage venues, Newstead Abbey & Gardens, Nottinghamshire.

Since it launched, a series of free creative workshops have been led by Dr Karen Buckley, through Nottingham City Libraries and Newstead Abbey, which visitors have booked from each website. A seminar event is also planned in the autumn at Newstead Abbey, with speakers Dr Andrew Harrison, University of Nottingham, and Dr Terry Gifford, Bath Spa University – including a painting viewing experience and afternoon tea. To find out more about the seminar: www.newsteadabbey.org.uk/d-h-lawrence.

This last-known portrait painting of the famous Nottinghamshire born writer D. H. Lawrence, created shortly before his untimely death in March 1930, was painted by Dutch artist, Joep Nicolas (1897-1972), better known as a stained glass painter of some repute. Nicolas was the brother-in-law to the novelist Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963), the iconic author of Brave New World (1932), who was a close friend of Lawrence. Late in 1929, while travelling from Spain to Germany, D. H. Lawrence called on the Huxleys in Suresnes, France, where Nicolas also happened to be staying, and so the chance arose for Nicolas to paint Lawrence’s portrait.

This resulted in one of the few portraits of Lawrence painted during the writer’s lifetime and – almost certainly – the final one. In March 1925, Lawrence had been diagnosed with the double infirmity of tuberculosis and malaria and he died at the Villa Robermond, Vence, France, on 2nd March 1930, shortly after the visit where he sat for this portrait.

D. H. Lawrence is synonymous with Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and was a prolific author. Best known for his controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, he wrote many novels, short stories, poems and essays. He is considered one of the most significant authors of 20th Century literature and his works are celebrated worldwide.

Newstead Abbey & Gardens, managed by Nottingham City Museums, is a popular heritage venue with local and international visitors and has close links with literature and cultural arts, with it being the former of home of Romantic poet, Lord Byron – it is a fitting location for the placement of a significant piece for Nottinghamshire and its local people as well as visitors from far afield.

Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “We are thrilled to have secured grant funding and public donations to buy the last-known portrait painting of D. H. Lawrence. It is fundamental to Nottinghamshire’s cultural importance and we believe it will mean a great deal to many people. It is also a celebration of Nottingham’s rebellious literary history.

“It is brilliant that through a collaboration between Nottingham City Libraries and Nottingham City Museums and partners, we are showcasing this collection piece at Newstead Abbey & Gardens, so it can be enjoyed by as many visitors and local residents as possible in the future too.”

To find out more about the seminar and ongoing activities for D. H. Lawrence, go to the Newstead Abbey website: www.newsteadabbey.org.uk/d-h-lawrence

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