Those who collect may nurture a singular obsession, for Australian art pottery perhaps, or postcards; or their passions may extend to many areas of collecting. One day late last year, not long after I had started working at Bendigo Art Gallery, a pair of Art Nouveau vases caught my eye as I walked through Abbott Court. Abbott Court is of course the eponymous Gallery of R.H. Abbott, one of Bendigo Art Gallery’s founders and originator of the R H S Abbott Bequest Fund that continues to support acquisitions of art to the Gallery’s collection.
I stopped momentarily to admire the vases, decorated with an elegant Art Nouveau line and lustrous glazing. My eye searched for the object’s label, and I discovered the vases were from the famous Mintons ceramics factory in Staffordshire, and had been donated by a former colleague and friend, the late Dr Robert Wilson. I then realised that Robert had in fact donated every object in the cabinet – a collection of 19th century English ceramics and glass of the finest museum quality from Worcester, Copeland, Doulton, Thomas Webb, Wedgwood, and Robert’s particular and most enduring collecting passion, Mintons.
Dr Robert Wilson was also one of the most significant benefactors to the Decorative Arts Department of the National Gallery of Victoria. His acts of outstanding philanthropy are gifts to the people of Bendigo and Victoria, and have ensured his legacy within the Gallery community, now and into the future. Bendigo Art Gallery pays tribute to the vision and generosity of the late Dr Robert Wilson.
The Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program encourages Australians to donate items of cultural significance from private collections to public art galleries, museums, libraries and archives. Every gift is appreciated and valued. Your contribution can assist in building a better gallery for the community. Gifts can be made directly to the Gallery, whether they be money or art works. You can also contribute to the conservation of key works from the Bendigo Art Gallery’s collection, including the 1761 painting of King George III from the studio of Allan Ramsay, by making a tax deductible donation via bendigoartgallery.com.au/donate.