Banbury was transformed by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, between 1133 and 1148. He built the castle and laid out the streets of the new market centre. His work enabled Banbury to grow into the thriving market centre it subsequently became.
Established in 2000, Banbury Town Council is of recent origin, although it is a successor to the Banbury Borough Council, which was abolished in the 1974 local government reorganisation. However the Collection it cares for has a long association with the town, and was probably created in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
The origin of the Collection is unknown, but it is likely to have been acquired over many years, through individual acquisitions or one or more large bequests. Indeed it is difficult to identify a single theme to the Collection, which reinforces this impression.
Portraits form the largest group of paintings, and include works attributed to Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723). Some have local associations, such as the portrait of the 16th Lord Saye and Sele (c.1850) or the portrait John Harlock, JP, Mayor of Banbury (1865–1866) by John Sanderson-Wells. Others, such as the portrait said to be of Prince Rupert and attributed to Arnold Mytens (c.1541–1602), or the portrait of Lord John Hampden by the school of Kneller, have a more tenuous link to the town’s history.
In addition to the portraits there are several landscapes, including Columns in an Italianate Landscape, attributed to Claude Lorrain (1604–1682), and View of Ancient Rome, attributed to Giovanni Paolo Panini (c.1692–1765).
It is to be commended that Banbury Town Council has recognised its responsibility as guardian of these works, and has enthusiastically embarked upon an ambitious conservation programme which will be complete in 2012.
Simon Townsend, Museum Services Manager, Cherwell District Council
Text source: PCF / Banbury Town Council
This description was originally written for a catalogue.
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