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A lovelorn beauty plucks at an Irish harp, her eyes glancing soulfully heavenwards…. she is an artwork unseen - yet owned by all of us. Painted by Sir William Beechey RA, this portrait of Sarah Curran was languishing in a museum store in West Yorkshire until recently unearthed by the sleuthing of the Public Catalogue Foundation (see Now, from 7 – 17th June, Miss Curran will be appearing on Corfield Morris’ stand in the full glare of the public gaze for the duration of the internationally regarded Summer Fair at Olympia.

Miss Curran’s story is tragic – the painting illustrates her sad tale. Tim Corfield, founder director of Corfield Morris (see: comments: “It seems a shame this wonderful Beechey lay unappreciated for so many years. With the PCF, we felt this painting deserved to see the light of day – it’s a fine example of Beechey’s talent and displays a terrific back story; Miss Curran’s betrothed, the Irish revolutionary leader Robert Emmet, was hanged prior, we believe, to this painting’s creation. It would appear the motivation for the portrait was to commemorate their love – the ciphers of harp and tartan point to her support of Emmet’s cause and the whole composition is one of memento mori and contemplatestimes past”.

On the Corfield Morris stand (D120), Miss Curran will be shown alongside an equally little viewed John Piper landscape entitled ‘Halifax 2’. Comments Andy Ellis, PCF director: “In our researches for our West Yorkshire catalogue (expected publication later this year), as with all our regional publications, we often come across the unexpected and the unusual. These two, chiefly unseen, paintings reveal to us, yet again, the very great heritage we have here in the UK – a heritage thankfully charted and collected by far-sighted people many years ago. Once unearthed, paintings such as these provide fresh impetus to public collections and inform scholarship. Our longer term objective is to make the PCF image database freely available on-line, so anyone anywhere in the UK will be able to know what is where and how to view it – for fun, for pleasure, for research, forever.”

Notes to Editors:

Sir William Beechey (1753-1839):

Trained as lawyer, but instead attended Royal Academy Schools in 1774, in style influenced by Zoffany and Sir Joshua Reynolds. After five years in Norwich, Beechey returned to London to become Portrait Painter to Queen Charlotte in 1793. Knighted in 1798, he wasappointed Portrait Painter to William Frederick, 2nd Duke of Gloucester around 1813, and Principal Painter to William IV after 1830. Beechey is said to have mentored young artists including Constable. After the 2007 Summer Fair, Beechey’s painting of Miss Sarah Curran will return to the Bankfield Museum, Halifax.

John Piper (1903-1992):

Also studied law and then attended Richmond College of Art. During WWII, Piper was an official war artist and is primarily known for abstract paintings. However, he also worked with ceramics, and stained glass and as a book illustrator. ‘Halifax 2’ was acquired at auction (Sotheby’s) by Calderdale Museum Services Collection in 1994 for Bankfield Museum and this painting (oil on canvas) is sometimes exhibited alongside a rug, designed by Peter Colgan, derived from this work. The acquisition was assisted by the V & A Purchases Fund. Corfield Morris: At the Summer Fair Olympia (7-17th June, 2007) Corfield Morris provides impartial advice on potential purchases as well as conservation and restoration (see: ) and helps visitors make the best selection of the applied art, antique furniture, silver and jewellery at the show. The Corfield Morris team works regularly with private banks, public collections and individual international collectors

contact: +44 (0) 20 70383548 or +44 7798 881383 at the show.

For more information or images of these loans please contact:

Janie Joel, for Corfield Morris
Tel: +44 208 333 1766
At show: +44 7887 677507

The Public Catalogue Foundation:

It is estimated that, at any one time in the UK, 80% of the oil paintings held in galleries and civic buildings – over 120,000 works of art – are hidden from public view, usually because there are insufficient funds and space to show them. Very few galleries have created a complete photographic record of their paintings, let alone a comprehensive illustrated catalogue of their collections. In short, what is publicly owned is not publicly accessible.

The PCF, a registered charity, aims to create a complete record of the nation’s collections of oil,tempera and acrylic paintings in public ownership; to make this accessible to the public, county-by-county, through a series of affordable catalogues; and to raise funds through the sale of thecatalogues in the collections, for the conservation, restoration and exhibition of works that are rarely on display, as well as gallery education related to the catalogues.

The project is already proving to be of enormous benefit and inspiration to students of art and to members of the general public. It will also provide a major source of organized material for scholarly research into art history. A number of prevailing mis-attributions will doubtless be corrected and valuable treasures are being unearthed as a result of the project.

Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in West Yorkshire is due to be published in August this year, providing that sufficient funding can be found. The PCF has no long-term sources of funding and must raise the necessary funds to publish each county catalogue from local sources including individuals, businesses, charitable trusts and local authorities. To date, £41,000 has been raised towards the £81,000 needed to print West Yorkshire.

For further information please contact:

Andy Ellis
Tel: 020 7747 5937

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