The Pannett Art Gallery has successfully raised the funding to purchase a prestigious painting of Laura Knight, painted by her husband Harold Knight, thanks to grants from Art Fund, Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and one very generous benefactor, Mr George Bednar. Mr Bednar, a tremendous enthusiast of the Staithes Group of Artists, had spotted the painting in a London gallery and knew what an important part it plays in telling the story of these two artists. He proposed that the gallery should purchase the painting and provided a significant contribution towards its cost. Art Fund and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund contributed equally to the outstanding cost of purchasing the painting, resulting in a wonderful new acquisition for the Pannett Art Gallery.

Whitby Town Mayor Councillor Rebecca Pearson said: “It is fantastic for the Town to have had the opportunity to purchase such a beautiful and significant painting. It is a wonderful addition to our collection and we are very grateful to The Art Fund, the Arts Council England V&A Purchase Grant Fund and to Mr Bednar for their generous contributions which has made it possible to acquire this painting for the residents of and visitors to Whitby to enjoy.”

Laura and Harold are two of the most significant artists from the Staithes Group. Harold met Laura at the Nottingham School of Art where Harold won a number of art prizes and was considered to be the best Art Student at the time. Laura learnt much from copying his techniques. After Staithes they went on to become leading figures in the Newlyn School. Harold was a skilful painter in oil and watercolours, painting landscapes, seascapes, genre scenes and many portraits. This beautiful, sensitive portrait was produced before or shortly after their marriage and represents their time painting in Staithes, a period which played an important role in their development. This painting offers a great insight into the character of Laura, demonstrating how perceptive and how skilled Harold was in portraying such a personal image. With the subject being Laura, this makes it particularly pertinent to the Pannett Art Gallery.

The Pannett Art Gallery was particularly pleased to be able to purchase this painting as 2020 is the Centenary of the Pannett Bequest which led to the building of the gallery. 2020 is also the 25th anniversary of the art gallery dedicating one room to the Staithes Artists and is the 50th anniversary of the death of Dame Laura Knight. The painting will go on display next year as the gallery will be focusing on commemorating these anniversaries throughout the year.

Pannett Art Gallery Committee chairman, Councillor Bob Dalrymple said: “We are delighted to have successfully purchased this powerful, haunting portrait. We thank the Art Fund, the Arts Council England V&A Purchase Grant Fund and Mr Bednar for their generous contributions, without which we would not have been able to add this wonderful painting to our collection. It is a fitting way to celebrate the generosity of Alderman Pannett and the wonderful artists of the Staithes Group.”

Pannett Park and The Pannett Art Gallery exist thanks to the generosity of Alderman Robert Elliott Pannett. The Park and Art Gallery were built with money and assets he bequeathed, for the benefit of local people and visitors. In 2020 the gallery will mark the Centenary of the Death of Alderman Pannett and his generous bequest, with the focus on the display of this special acquisition.