We are delighted (nay, ecstatic!) to reveal that we were successful in purchasing John Wood the Elder’s beautiful set of drawing instruments. They were sold at Clevedon Auction Rooms on 10 March 2016 for a total price, including commission, of £26,000. We acquired them with support from the Art Fund, the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and several local donors.
The set, which is engraved with John Wood the Elder’s name and crest, is already on public display in the Museum of Bath Architecture, along with other items describing Wood’s contribution to the design and development of the World Heritage City.
Made by leading C18th mathematical instrument maker Thomas Heath, the exquisite items were in private hands before the sale, their full significance lost behind years of tarnish.
Architectural Curator of Bath Preservation Trust, Dr Amy Frost, said:
‘As soon as we saw the drawing instruments, we knew that the most appropriate home for them was back in Bath and on public display so that all who love Bath’s buildings could get a further insight into how they were created. The set can be seen in the Museum of Bath Architecture which celebrates the 18th century architecture of Bath and interprets the built heritage of this famous city.
‘We are immensely grateful to the Art Fund, The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and pledges from several local donors who responded in an amazingly short time so that we could secure the set despite determined bidding from others on the day’.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said:
‘Congratulations to Bath Preservation Trust for their success at a nerve-wracking auction! We’re very pleased to have played our part in securing these instruments for public ownership and display in Bath, where they rightfully belong – surrounded by the very buildings they helped create.’
Julia Brettell, National Programmes Manager at the V&A, said:
“The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is pleased to be able to support this acquisition. Bath Preservation Trust made a strong argument for their purchase. It is highly appropriate that the instruments are shown close to the buildings they ‘helped’ design and in a display focussed on the architects who used them”.
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