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This article was published 27/8/2010 (4077 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A painting worth $2.75 million has been donated to The Winnipeg Art Gallery by a prominent Winnipeg family, the largest such gift of its kind in gallery history.
The 1889 oil on canvas, by 19th-century Englishman John Everett Millais, will be unveiled Sept. 22, WAG director Stephen Borys confirmed Friday.
It has been donated by retired senator Douglas Everett and his family in memory of his wife, Patricia (Patty), who died in May at age 83.
"It’s a really spectacular work," Borys said of the one-by-1.3-metre image of three young girls communing outdoors. "We do have pieces in our collection that are valued higher, but none at the time of their donation."
Millais is best known as one of the founders of the London-based Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, along with William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
"This is a coup for the WAG," said commercial art dealer Shaun Mayberry, co-owner of Winnipeg’s Mayberry Fine Art.
"It’s an extremely significant piece within its area. There aren’t a lot like it, and even fewer in private hands."
Borys says that Afternoon Tea is part of a significant group of works Millais produced in the 1870s and 1880s that celebrate the subject of children.
"She (Patty) loved the painting," said Everett, 83, who bought it at auction in 1971. "She was very much interested in children and that genre of work."
The Everetts had a significant collection of 18th- and 19th-century art but sold most of it three or four years ago.
Everett said he opted to donate this one, their only Millais, after reading a report in the Free Press in 2009 detailing Borys’s establishment of a permanent exhibition of works from the collection.
"He (Borys) has a knowledge of this area," Everett said. "I might have given more to them before, but there didn’t seem to be much interest."
A Winnipegger by birth with a PhD in art history, Borys, 47, came to the WAG in 2008 after being chief curator of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla.
"There have been several instances where collectors, artists and visitors have responded generously to this new focus on the permanent collection," Borys said, pointing to recent gifts by Ruby Ashdown and the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation.
Afternoon Tea will be displayed permanently in Gallery 2.