William Stott of Oldham, Le Passeur 1881 Tate

William Stott of Oldham, Le Passeur 1881 Oil paint on canvas 1095 x 2150 mm Tate

Le Passeur (The Ferryman) purchased for Tate to be shown at Tate Britain alongside key British Impressionist works before touring to Pembrokeshire, Southampton, Oldham and Aberdeen

Widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the artist’s career, Le Passeur (The Ferryman) 1881 by William Stott of Oldham (1847 -1900) has been secured for the British public through major gifts from The National Lottery, The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation and Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation).

The work will tour to four UK-partner galleries: Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre, Southampton City Art Gallery, Gallery Oldham and Aberdeen Art Gallery, thanks to The National Lottery, the John Ellerman Foundation and Art Fund.

The painting, considered one of the key moments in the breakthrough to naturalism in British art of the 1880s, established Stott as one of the most progressive British artists of his day. It will be shown first at Tate Britain as part of a Spotlight display on the artist and his contemporaries, including Edward Stott, George Clausen and James Guthrie; artists whose work Stott’s was said to influence. These artists, key figures in the British Impressionist movement and mainly based in the north of England, were noted for their naturalist works in rural environments. This emphasis and this display make the subsequent tour of the Stott masterpiece particularly pertinent.

One work in the display, by Arthur Melville, Audrey and Her Goats, has been restored by Tate and will be on display for the first time in nearly one hundred years. First shown at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1890, the work was highly controversial, owing to its bold brush work which was described as aggressive. The work belonged to W Graham Robertson, who bequeathed it to Tate in 1925. The restoration of Audrey and her Goats was made possible through the generosity of the Finnis Scott Foundation, the Charlotte Bonham-Carter Charitable Trust and donations from the general public to the Tate Fund.

William Stott was a leading figure in the group of British artists who came under the influence of French naturalism in the late nineteenth century. After Manchester School of Art he trained in Paris under Bonnat and Gérôme and went on to exhibit a number of paintings at the Paris Salon which were much admired by French critics. There are 23 paintings in British public collections by Stott, the majority of which are in Gallery Oldham, the artist’s home town. This work joins one other in Tate’s collection by him, Prince or Shepherd? (Prince or Berger?) 1880.

An exquisite painting, Le Passeur transforms the Tate collection in its presentation of what British Impressionism could achieve in an international context. It will join other British Impressionist works such as Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Six-foot long, the picture is a delicate tonalist rendition of dusk on the river at Grez.

When the work goes on tour, bespoke displays at each of the partner venues will be complemented by a programme of learning activities and resources engaging diverse audiences with the work of William Stott and the story of British Impressionism. A related skills exchange programme will reach at least 100 museums, galleries and other institutions across the UK from 2017. A series of workshops for staff and volunteers will build capacity to share artworks and champion the ongoing development and legacy of registrar skills across the regions and nations. Workshop participants will be eligible to apply for a strategic bursary to support the cost of loans from Tate’s National Collection of British Art.

Alex Farquharson, Director Tate Britain said, ‘We are delighted to be showing this significant work at Tate Britain before it tours to St Davids Pembrokeshire, Southampton, the artist’s home town of Oldham and Aberdeen. We are hugely grateful for the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation) and The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation for securing this painting for the nation, and to HLF, the John Ellerman Foundation and Art Fund for their support of the tour. By reaching audiences beyond the walls of Tate in all parts of the UK, we can further continue Tate’s mission to promote public understanding and enjoyment of art.’

The Spotlight display of Le Passeur is at Tate Britain until 4 February 2018 and is curated by Alison Smith, Lead Curator, 19th Century British Art.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation

The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation has provided funding to over 200 charities. The Foundation’s focus is on Education, Health, the Arts and Religion. Amongst others, funding has been provided to Trinity Hospice in south London, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, established the chair of International Security at the University of Sydney and enabled the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Pauline Chapel at the Vatican. In the UK, support has been given to the Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, the University of Oxford Centre for Astrophysical Surveys, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Old Vic Theatre in London.

John Ellerman Foundation

The John Ellerman Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation, supporting charities that make a practical difference to people, society and the natural world. We support charities working in the Arts, Environment and Welfare, and whose work has reach and significance across the UK. The Regional Museums and Galleries Fund aims to help organisations enhance and sustain curatorial development to attract a broader public.

Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone the Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 Aspire tour of Tate’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year, and a range of digital platforms. Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org. For further information please contact Madeline Adeane: madeane@artfund.org / +44(0)20 7225 4804

Tate Britain Spotlight Displays

Tate Britain’s Spotlight displays are a series of regularly changing free displays exploring particular themes or focusing on particular artists. Alongside Le Passeur, other new Spotlights which have opened this month include Paule Vézelay, a room exploring the paintings, textiles, prints and sculptures of this pioneering abstract artist, and Blue, the last feature film made by Derek Jarman only a few months before his death. On 22 May they will be joined by a new display about William Blake and his influence on mystical and religious themes in 20th century art.

For press information contact Joanna.Sandler@tate.org.uk / Sara.Chan@tate.org.uk or call +44(0)20 7887 8732.