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Acquisitions of the month: May 2017

8 June 2017

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
122 photographs by Ed van der Elsken

The Stedelijk is not short of photographs by Ed van der Elsken, but its existing collection of over 300 works was weighted towards his early years in Paris. This new acquisition expands on that significantly, adding images taken by the Dutch street photographer in Central Africa, Japan, and Amsterdam. The photographs date from the 1950s to the 1980s, and capture the changing communities in which they were taken. Half of this acquisition was a gift of the Ed van der Elsken Estate; the other half was purchased by the museum with the support of the Mondrian Fund.

Rockers from Harajuku (1984), Ed van der Elsken.

Rockers from Harajuku (1984), Ed van der Elsken.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Photographs of British Algae by Anna Atkins

The English botanist Anna Atkins (1799–1871) was one of the first women to experiment with photography, and this is thought to be the first ever photographically-illustrated book. It records the appearance of various types of algae using a cyanotype method of producing contact prints (or blueprints). Atkins produced the first edition in 1843, and painstakingly compiled several more over the following decade. Around 20 editions are known to survive – not all of them complete. The Rijksmuseum’s example includes 307 photographs and retains its 19th-century binding.

Ben Uri Gallery, London
Head of Helen Gillespie (c. 1962–64), Frank Auerbach

This striking portrait of Auerbach’s friend Helen Gillespie is executed in the artist’s characteristically thick impasto, and with a near monochrome palette. Auerbach arrived in Britain as a child refugee from Germany in 1939 (his Jewish parents were subsequently killed in concentration camps) and was naturalised in 1947: he is now celebrated as one of Britain’s greatest artists. The portrait, which enters the Ben Uri Gallery on long-term loan from the collection of Richard and Julia Anson, is part of the exhibition ‘Refugees: The Lives of Others’ (until 18 June).

Head of Helen Gillespie (c. 1962–64), Frank Auerbach. On loan to the Ben Uri Collection from the collection of Richard and Julia Anson

Head of Helen Gillespie (c. 1962–64), Frank Auerbach. On loan to the Ben Uri Collection from the collection of Richard and Julia Anson

National Museum Wales
David Hurn collection of photography

Documentary photographer David Hurn has amassed an impressive personal collection over the years, largely by swapping images with his colleagues at Magnum and elsewhere. The Welsh-born artist has now donated some 700 of these works to the National Museum in Cardiff, along with 1,500 of his own pieces. An exhibition drawn from this gift will open the museum’s first dedicated photography gallery later this year.

Retired gentleman at the MG Car owners Ball, Edinburgh, Scotland (1967), David Hurn. © David Hurn/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Retired gentleman at the MG Car owners Ball, Edinburgh, Scotland (1967), David Hurn. © David Hurn/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Two Farm Horses by a Barn (c. 1825–27), Eugène Delacroix

This unassuming painting of two horses in a country setting may have been inspired by a trip to England that Delacroix made in 1825. It joins four other paintings by the famous French artist in the Neue Pinakothek, and presents a different side to his work: the others all depict literary themes. It has been donated by former curator at the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Christoph Heilmann.

Two Farm Horses by a Barn (c. 1825–27), Eugène Delacroix. © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Two Farm Horses by a Barn (c. 1825–27), Eugène Delacroix. © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
197 works of contemporary art from the collection of Bob Rennie

The businessman and art collector Bob Rennie has marked Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation by gifting around C$12m-worth of art to the country’s national gallery. Many of the contemporary artworks included in the gift are by Vancouver-based artists such as Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham and Damian Moppett, but a few, such as an installation piece by Doris Salcedo, hail from further afield. It is one of the largest donations ever made to the institution, which has renamed one of its upper contemporary art galleries the Rennie Gallery in thanks.

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