The Fleming Collection
The collection was started in 1968 from the Scottish banking firm Robert Fleming & Co., founded in Dundee, Scotland. In 1968 the bank moved to a new building in Corsby Square in the City of London and it was decided to create a collection for the purpose of decorating the space. This task was given singularly to one of the bank’s directors, David Donald. The only guideline given was that the paintings should be by Scottish artists or Scottish scenes by any artists, to emphasise the banks proud Scottish origins. Scottish art was largely unknown outside of Scotland until the 1980s, making prices relatively low, meaning that a large collection was amassed in a short amount of time.
David Donald died unexpectedly in 1985. Earlier that year he was awarded the honour of being elected an Honorary Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy for services to Scottish art. The role of collector was continued by Robert Fleming and Bill Smith, who was later to become the first Keeper of Art. Under his guidance the Collection was moved to its new headquarters in Copthall Avenue. The Collection also began to focus more on collecting the work of living artists. By the 1990s it had gained international recognition as a collection of Scottish art and as a corporate art collection. After Bill Smith’s retirement, Selina Skipwith became the new Keeper of Art.
The Fleming-Wyfold Foundation
In March 2000 Flemings bank was sold to Chase Manhattan Bank, New York. To avoid the Collection being lost, the Fleming family put forward the funds to enable a new charitable foundation, The Fleming-Wyfold Foundation, to purchase the collection at market value before the sale.
The Collection was moved to its current premises on Berkeley Street in 2002. The gallery was to have a revolving exhibition based on works from the Collection and aiming to act as a showcase for Scottish art in London. The Foundation also continues to lend works to exhibitions internationally. In June 2010, a second gallery was opened within the premises to permanently display works from the Collection itself.
Works in the Collection
The collection contains art from the mid 18th century to the present by a large selection of Scottish artists. From the 18th and 19th centuries, artists include Allan Ramsay, Henry Raeburn, Jacob More, Sir David Wilkie, Scottish Impressionist William McTaggart and notable images of the Highland Clearances, Thomas Faed’s The Last of The Clan and John Watson Nicol’s Lochaber No More.
The Collection is particularly known for its works by the Scottish Colourists, a group composed of Samuel John Peploe, John Duncan Fergusson, George Leslie Hunter, and Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell.
The Collection includes works by 20th-century artists including James Cowie (artist), Stanley Cursiter, Anne Redpath, William Johnstone (artist), William George Gillies, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Robert Colquhoun, Alan Davie, Joan Eardley, Craigie Aitchison, Elizabeth Blackadder, John Byrne, Will Maclean, John Bellany, Alison Watt, Jock McFadyen.