The very existence of Tate and its collection, from its foundation in 1897 to today, depends on the generosity of its benefactors. They have supported Tate by giving money to help with the building of galleries and the collection and by donating artworks.
Henry Tate was Tate’s first benefactor. He donated his collection of British nineteenth-century art to the nation and provided funding for the original building at Millbank, London.
The son of a clergyman, Tate was born in 1819 in Chorley, Lancashire. He became a leading sugar refiner at the company Henry Tate & Sons (later to become Tate & Lyle). A large part of his success was patenting a means of cutting sugar into diced-sized cubes.
Tate was a great patron of Pre-Raphaelite artists and his bequest of 65 paintings to the National Gallery included John Everett Millais’ Ophelia 1851-2 and J.W. Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott 1888. The bequest was turned down by the trustees because there was not enough space in the gallery. A campaign was begun to create a new gallery dedicated to British art and, with the help of an £80,000 donation from Tate himself, the gallery at Millbank was built and opened in 1897. Tate’s original bequest of works, together with works from the National Gallery, formed the founding collection.
The arts and antiques dealers Sir Joseph Joel Duveen (1843-1908) and his son Lord Joseph Duveen (1869-1939) made significant financial contributions to the original gallery at Millbank. With their support, large extensions were added to the gallery including seven new rooms to display the Turner Bequest in 1910 and the Duveen Sculpture Galleries, the first galleries build specifically for sculpture in England.
Tate Members was founded in 1957 as the Friends of the Tate Gallery to raise money to buy artworks and to support and promote the work of the gallery.
Their fundraising work has made possible the purchase of nearly 400 masterpieces for the gallery, including such notable works as Henry Moore’s King and Queen, Henri Matisse’s Snail, and Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman.
Gifts and bequests
Many major gifts and bequests have been made to Tate over the years.
Donations, membership, sponsorship and legacies all help us develop and maintain our galleries collection. Find out how you can help, and how you benefit, when you support us.