The basis of the Angus Council art collection consists of artworks originally held by the seven burgh towns of Angus. With local government reorganisation in 1975, the Scottish burghs were abolished and Angus District Council was created. In 1975 Angus became one of the districts of the Tayside Region and in 1996 Angus was established as a unitary authority. The amalgamation of the burgh collections produced a single art collection which is rich and diverse.
Angus Council has collections in various locations such as Arbroath, Brechin, and Forfar, each with a unique flavour and reflecting the character of the individual burgh towns of Angus. The flagship gallery for the county is The Meffan Museum & Art Gallery in Forfar which has a changing programme of exhibitions throughout the year, primarily showing the work of contemporary Scottish artists.
Angus Council holds over 4,000 works of art, including oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculptures. The majority of the works have a north east of Scotland connection, either because the artist or donor is from the area, or the subject matter reflects the region.
There are significant groups of work by William Lamb of Montrose (whose paintings are in a medium other than oil), David Waterson of Brechin and James Watterson Herald of Forfar and Arbroath, which make up a considerable part of the collection. Highlights of the oil painting collection include works by Henry Raeburn, James Irvine, George Paul Chalmers, Edward Baird, William Littlejohn, James McIntosh Patrick and James Morrison.
Of particular note are two paintings by Peter Brueghel the younger. These significant works, The Adoration of the Magi and Saint John Preaching in the Wilderness, formed the basis of the historical Arbroath collection from the mid-nineteenth century and are on permanent display in the Arbroath Art Gallery, housed within Arbroath Library. Finding such impressive works in such an unassuming location often surprises and intrigues visitors to the building.
The art collection has been augmented over the years by donations, bequests and purchases. Several works have come into the collection via competitions and purchase prizes, such as the Arbroath Art Competition in the 1960s and 1970s and, more recently, the Summer Show and Christmas Extravaganza at The Meffan (where paintings in media other than oil were purchased). Angus Council has also funded an annual commission for new graduates from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.
Many of the paintings from the original burgh collections have survived to the present day though not always in a condition that allows for public display. Participation in the Public Catalogue Foundation project will aid in making these works accessible in a way that was previously not possible.
Jan Davies, Galleries Officer
Text source: PCF / Angus Council
This description was originally written for a catalogue.