One of the things our extension project will be delivering is new temporary exhibitions galleries. Our two new spaces measure 69 square metres (main gallery) and 31 square metres (community gallery). They will also have the necessary temperature and humidity controls to enable us to borrow things from other museums around the country. We have started planning what our new programme will look like when we reopen next year.
This little painting of Barnstaple from the river has often been displayed on the landing in the Museum. It is an early work by Frederick Richard Lee, a highly successful Victorian landscape painter who is still the only person from Barnstaple to become a member of the Royal Academy. If you look on the ArtUK website, you will see that there are many of his paintings in various public collections around the country. We are now looking at which we might be able to borrow to create an exhibition all about Lee here in his home town.
F R Lee was the son and brother of two architects, both called Thomas Lee, who built Barnstaple Guildhall and Arlington Court, among others. He was very prolific, and his paintings sold very well. In later life he retired to live at Broadgate House in Pilton, and also enjoyed sailing his yacht, including to South Africa, where he died in 1879.
As Lee was particularly good at painting scenery, he was in demand as a collaborator with other artists, especially with Thomas Sidney Cooper and Sir Edwin Landseer, who specialised in animals. This painting now in the collection of the Tate Gallery, has a background by Lee and figures by Landseer.
We are looking forward to bringing together more works by F R Lee to hang alongside familiar paintings like the one below, showing the railway at Bishops Tawton, which has been on display in our shop for the last 10 years or so. We are planning that our F R Lee exhibition will take place in autumn next year.