Help us save these beautiful drawings for the nation
The National Trust has launched a campaign to bring four beautiful Philip Webb sketches home to Wolverhampton for display at Wightwick Manor.
Built for local industrialist Theodore Mander in 1887, Wightwick Manor is widely regarded as having one of the finest interiors of the Arts & Crafts movement in Britain today with rooms furnished in Morris & Co. textiles and wallpapers.
The Webb drawings of a hare, fox, raven and lion, were the original designs for a William Morris tapestry called The Forest, which was first exhibited in Wolverhampton at the 1887 Arts & Crafts Exhibition and is now owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Webb was a life-long friend, collaborator and business partner of Morris. He also designed Morris’ first home, Red House - also owned by the National Trust.
Theodore’s son, Sir Geoffrey Mander inherited Wightwick Manor in 1900 and with his second wife Rosalie, Lady Mander, built up an important collection of works of art by the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers. Sir Geoffrey presented the house to the National Trust in 1937 – an unprecedented move as he was still alive - and with the Trust continued to acquire pictures, furniture and objects to adorn its interior.
This acquisition appeal has been launched by the Trust to ensure that the four beautiful Webb drawings are returned home to Wolverhampton and displayed alongside Wightwick’s other important Pre-Raphaelite pieces. The drawings were initially owned by Laurence Hodson, another of Wolverhampton’s Victorian industrialists who lived at nearby Compton Hall, now Compton Hospice. Like the Manders, Hodson was also a local philanthropist and collector with Compton Hall originally containing Morris & Co. furnishings in the 1890s.
Jane Gallagher, Lead Curator for the National Trust in the Midlands, said: “These drawings are of immense significance and importance to Wolverhampton, not only as internationally important works of art in their own right, but because they demonstrate the link that the city had with the Arts & Crafts movement. We want to bring them back to Wolverhampton to enable people from the region to see these beautiful inspirational works of art on their doorstep.”
If we succeed in our campaign to buy the drawings they will be displayed at Wightwick Manor as well as lent to other museums and galleries for temporary exhibition. If we don’t achieve our ambition it is likely that they will be sold separately, most likely into private hands, which will preclude any future attempt to buy them as a complete group, which would be a real loss.
To help us secure these works of art, for ever and for everyone, we need to raise a further £50,000 – please help us if you can, even a small gift will make all the difference to us.