Felton's Bequest enabled the National Gallery to build a comprehensive collection before art prices spiraled in the late 1950's, since his death over 15,000 works of art valued at over $1 billion have been purchased including works by Rembrandt, Willima Blake, Tiepolo, Monet, Cezanne, van Gogh, Turner and more.
Pissarro: Boulevard Montmartre 1897 in 1905
Monet: Rough weather at Etretat 1888 in 1913
Sisley: Straw Ricks 1891 in 1913
Corot: The Bent Tree c 1855-1860 in 1907
Fredric Mc CUBBIN: The Pioneer in 1906
Norman MacGeorge: Mother of Pearl in 1907
Hans HEYSEN: Sunshine and Shadow in 1908
Hans HEYSEN: A Lod of the Bush
Hans HEYSEN: Midsummer Morning
Arthur STREETON: Sydney Harbour in 1912
Blamire: Young: Winter's Grey Mantle c1912
Fredric Mc CUBBIN: Lost
Clara Southern: The old bee farm c1900
National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square
John Poynter - an Honorary Professorial
Fellow in the Australia Centre at the University of Melbourne,
has just written a book about Alfred Felton -
Mr Felton's Bequest - published by Melbourne University Press
The Felton Bequest is the most important benefaction in Australian art history, and this book details the life of Alfred Felton, an English merchant who lived in Melbourne during the 19th century and was an enormously successful businessman running the wholesale drugstore Felton, Grimwade & Co. during the gold rush. Detailed is how his bequests committee successfully doled out the inheritance to artistic and charitable organizations, despite the contentious public debate over what sorts of art works should be acquired for Melbourne's gallery. Primary sources including Felton's personal writings and the files from the bequests committee document the drama.
'a superb book . . . what the NGV failed to buy and the reasons for its acquisitions over the past 99 years make gripping reading in Poynter's book.'
Herald Sun - 21/11/2003
'In the magisterial biography Mr Felton's Bequests by John Poynter, Felton, the remarkable bachelor and visionary, is presented in comprehensive detail. A monumental study of an eccentric, generous and charitable man.'
Sydney Morning Herald - Favourite Reads of the Year 2003 lists, 6-7/12/2003
About the Author
John Poynter is an honorary professorial fellow in the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne. He is a former Ernest Scott professor of history and a deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne. He is the author of a biography of Russell Grimwade.