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Who are the Benefactors?

The very existence of the Gallery and its Collection, from its foundation in 1897 to the opening of Tate Modern, is dependant on the generosity of its benefactors. The benefactors have supported Tate, either by giving money to help with the building of galleries and purchase of works of art, or donating paintings and sculpture. Some of Tate's best loved works of art were gifts to the Gallery.

Although there have been many great benefactors in the history of Tate (you can read about some of them on the Special Collections pages) we have chosen one to highlight the important role played by these generous men and women.
Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, Ophelia, 1951-2
© Tate Archive 2003
Sir Hubert Von Herkomer
Sir Hubert Von Herkomer
Sir Henry Tate, 1897

Letter from Henry Tate to the Trustees and Director of the National Gallery
Letter from Henry Tate to the Trustees and Director of the National Gallery

© Sir Saxon Tate
Henry Tate was the Tate's first benefactor. As well as donating funding and paintings he also gave his name to the Gallery!

An industrialist who had made his fortune as a sugar refiner, Tate offered his collection of art to the nation on the condition that a gallery dedicated to British art be built.

The correspondence between Henry Tate, the Treasury and the National Gallery show how hard he worked to achieve his dream.

...the time has come when the Government should take into its consideration the suggestions recently made by several writers in the Newspapers and give the Nation a separate Gallery in which to place the works of the best masters of Modern British Art.

Were such a scheme carried out, Tate went on to say,

I feel sure many other collectors would present their finest works to the Gallery in which they might like myself have the pleasure of feeling that justice would be done to British art and gratification bestowed on millions of this and future generations.

Henry Tate in a letter to the Trustees and Director of the National Gallery, 25 March 1890
Deed of Gift
Deed of Gift, 6 November 1894

© Tate Archive 2003

Pall Mall Gazette
Pall Mall Gazette,

'National Gallery of British Art'
© Pall Mall Gazette

After much negotiation, a Gallery devoted to the display of British art was agreed, with Henry Tate paying 80,000 towards the cost of building as well as donating 65 paintings including Millais' Ophelia and J.W. Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott. These 65 paintings, together with works from the National Gallery, formed the nucleus of the British Collection.

Did you know?

Henry Tate made most of his fortune by holding the patent for sugar cubes.

You can find out more about Tate Britain and the other Tate Galleries in the Buildings section.

Tate Members

Tate Members was founded in 1957 as the 'Friends of the Tate Gallery' to raise money for the purchase of works of art and to support and promote the work of the gallery.

Friends of the Tate Gallery collection box
Friends of the Tate Gallery collection box

© Tate Archive 2003
Ryan's Daughter reception
Photograph of Ryan's Daughter reception

© Tate Archive 2003

Their fundraising work has made possible the purchase of nearly four hundred masterpieces for the Gallery including such notable works as Henry Moore's King and Queen, Henri Matisse's Snail, and Picasso's Weeping Woman.

Fundraising is not just about collection boxes, it can be very glamorous. This photo [right] shows the film premiere of 'Ryan's Daughter', organised by the Friends to raise money for Tate.