A French flavour set to light up Leeds Art Gallery

Picture credit: Alfred Sisley (1840-1899), Les Champs 1874, oil paint on canvas. © Leeds Museums and Galleries.

With the arrival of the Grand Départ in Leeds just around the corner, the very best of French art from the permanent collection of a popular city gallery is to be showcased later this week as part of the special exhibition, Cross Currents; French Art from the Leeds Collection.

Focusing on the allure, excitement and positive impact that French art has had both on British artists and Yorkshire-based collectors, the display at Leeds Art Gallery is set to open on 21 June 2014.

Included in the exhibition are acquisitions from the early days of the Gallery and gifts from local private collectors when the taste was for Barbizon and the spirit of the outdoors. The pioneering efforts of former Gallery director Phillip Hendy (1934 – 1945) who brought paintings of modern life by post-impressionists Derain, Vuillard and Bonnard into the Leeds collection are also featured, along with works by Doré, Courbet, Lucien Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Henri Fantin-Latour.

In what also promises to be something not to be missed, a new acquisition of a previously unseen bronze by Edgar Degas known as the ‘Portrait de femme, tête appuyée sur la main gauche’ (Portrait of a Woman: Head Resting on One Hand) that was given in lieu of tax from the estate of notable British painter Lucien Freud, is set to be exhibited in a supplementary display that opens on the 28th June.

This display will bring to the fore a wide range of significant work from French artists that currently reside in Leeds Art Gallery’s considerable collection.

To find out more about this collection display which will close in summer 2015, please see www.leeds.gov.uk/crosscurrents

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"With the Grand Départ arriving in our city on the 5 July, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to showcase the significant French art that currently resides in Leeds Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

"There is really so much to see, and it is exciting that amongst the modern British painting and sculpture that the gallery is justly known for, there’s also a great collection of French art, which the recent arrival of the exquisite bronze by Degas makes all the richer."

Notes to editors:

1. Degas ‘Portrait of a Woman’ was accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of Lucian Freud and allocated to Leeds Art Gallery in 2013.

2. Also, currently on display is ‘Parallel Lives’ an exhibition exploring the work and lives of the artists Claude Cahun and Marlow Moss, both of whom have connections to Paris. The display of Marlow Moss presents paintings, reliefs and sculptures drawn from collections in the UK and Europe that are primarily concerned with an interrogation of space, movement and light. Moss lived and worked between Paris and Cornwall for much of her life. Claude Cahun’s riveting photographic self-portraits show her acting out diverse identities both male and female in scenes that range from the starkly minimal to the elaborately staged. An avid participant in the cultural avant-garde of Paris in the 1920s and 30s mingling with many of the leading artists of her day, Cahun eventually moved to Jersey, in the Channel Islands where she was imprisoned during Nazi occupation.

3. Described as ‘Probably the best collection of twentieth century British art outside London’ (John Russell Taylor, The Times) Leeds Art Gallery is a lively gallery in the heart of Leeds on The Headrow in Leeds' Cultural Quarter. Offering displays of Leeds' stunning collections as well as a dynamic programme of changing exhibitions, the Gallery is an innovative and exciting place to visit. At Leeds Art Gallery you can see a rich variety of art on display from Leeds’ impressive collections, to nationally acclaimed prints, watercolours, paintings, sculptures, photography, and contemporary art.

Leeds Art Gallery

The Headrow


West Yorkshire


0113 247 8256



Free admission

Opening Times

Monday & Tuesday 10am – 5pm

Wednesday 12pm – 5pm

Thursday to Saturday 10am – 5pm

Sunday 1pm – 5pm

Closed on Bank Holidays

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk