Grosvenor Art Gallery, Huddersfield

The Grosvenor Art Gallery was situated at 19a Westgate, Huddersfield, in the 1890s and was under the ownership of woollen merchant Francis Fryer Abbey.


The gallery was formally opened on 19 January 1894 and was described by the Huddersfield Chronicle as comprising several rooms hung with pictures, "many of them high merit and good workmanship." It was stated that Abbey's hope was to encourage an appreciation of art so that Huddersfield Corporation might consider creating a permanent art gallery for the town.[1]

Of particular interest at the opening was a study of "Rizpah defending the bodies of her sons" by Sir Frederic Leighton (1830-1896)[2], which was praised by the Rev. Canon Bardsley, the Vicar of Huddersfield, in his address at the event.

The Chronicle noted:[3]

The Grosvenor Gallery has placed within the reach of all the inhabitants the chance of seeing some exceedingly good examples of artists' work, and a more pleasant way of spending an hour or two than among such pictures can scarcely be imagined.

Members of the Huddersfield and District Deaf and Dumb Association — an organisation that Abbey had founded in the early 1870s — were invited to visit the gallery on Saturday 8 February. With the aid of an interpretor, Abbey gave the history of each work and "a very pleasant and instructive hour" was spent amongst the collection.[4] The following month, students of the Huddersfield School of Art visited the gallery at the invitation of Abbey.[5]

The second exhibition opened on 8 June 1894, with "nearly 200 drawings in black and white" and around 20 watercolours, which were mostly of nautical scenes.[6]

In one of the his pieces for the Chronicle, "Cid" praised the new exhibition:[7]

The rain came faster as I got into Westgate, and seeing the Grosvenor Art Gallery open I gladly entered. I urge all who have not been to go there at once. If they have any love for art they will be repaid, and Mr. Abbey will receive well-merited encouragement. Although I could have feasted my eyes for half a day on the 200 original pictures in black and white shown there, I wanted to see what could be seen in Huddersfield on a wet day.

Local art master, Peace Sykes, wrote to the Chronicle shortly before the exhibition closed imploring Mr. Abbey to keep it open an extra week, and for it to be open to the public free of charge — "I shall be very sorry indeed, and shall deem it to be a disgrace to the town, if these pictures are permitted to leave us without being seen by many hundreds more than what I am told have availed themselves of a such a sight as is here presented."[8]

Huddersfield Chronicle (29/Sep/1894)

The third exhibition opened on 31 August 1894 with a collection of 120 oil paintings and watercolour drawings, "from the easels of local professional artists". Amongst the artists exhibiting were: Miss Emmeline Young, Miss M. Sikes, Peace Sykes, Henry Sykes, George Sykes, James H. Milner, Charles France, W. F. Saile, A. Netherwood, H. Borrows, J. Pearson, S. E. Hogley, and Fred B. Oxley.[9] At the end of the exhibition, the items were placed up for auction.

A series of Friday afternoon and evening concerts was held in the upper gallery in February, with the second concert featuring Misses Harrop and Heath at the piano, accompanied by Miss Amy Lodge on violincello and Mr. A. A. Lodge of Kirkvale on violin. The Chronicle praised the performers, in particular Miss Lodge who "evinced a refinement of tone and expression which is seldom surpassed by even the most practised professional."[10]

The next exhibition had begun by July 1895 with a series of 152 original black and white sketches, including work by Lester Sutcliffe (1848-1933)[11] of Heptonstall.[12]

Notes and References

  1. "Art Conversazione in Huddersfield" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Jan/1894).
  2. Wikipedia: Frederic Leighton.
  3. "The Grosvenor Art Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Feb/1894).
  4. "Visit to an Art Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Feb/1894).
  5. "Art Students at the Grosvenor Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Mar/1894).
  6. "Art Students at the Grosvenor Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Mar/1894).
  7. "A Wet Day, the Patent Library, a Coffee Tavern, and the House of Lords" in Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Jun/1894).
  8. "Correspondence: The Exhibition of Black and White Drawings" in Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Jul/1894).
  9. "The Grosvenor Art Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Sep/1894).
  10. "Matinee Musical at the Grosvenor Art Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (16/Feb/1895).
  11. BBC: Art UK
  12. "Exhibition at the Grosvenor Art Gallery" in Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1895).