As the century moved on the Russell-Cotes collections continued to grow, including the addition of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s seminal Venus Verticordia.
East Cliff Hall and its contents were given to the people of Bournemouth in 1908. The first curator, Richard Quick, was appointed in 1921 and the art gallery and house became fully open to the public in 1922, following the deaths of its founders. The couple’s son, Herbert, added various works to the collections, including Aurora Triumphans by Evelyn De Morgan. Since then, the collections have continuously grown, thanks to the efforts of succeeding generations of curators and the generosity of donors, art collectors, funders and artists and their families.
Acquisitions during the 1930s and 1940s continued with contemporary paintings including animals, children and portraits. This period coincided with the rise of Bournemouth Art School and Bournemouth Arts Club, and work from this local talent pool made its way into the gallery’s collections. Some of it was locally-inspired like Leslie Ward’s stylised A Dorset Landscape, which owes much to the Bloomsbury Group.
After World War II, the War Artists’ Advisory Commission distributed the works of art in its care and a number of works came to the house. The most notable acquisition was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Venus Verticordia, which was purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and Percival Allam in 1946.
The collection continued to expand in the twentieth century through some key bequests and gifts from numerous individuals and organisations including Walter Child Clark (1929), Emmeline Young (1940), Mrs Ploos van Amstel (1943), the Contemporary Art Society, the Downton Trust, Phyllis Lee-Duncan (1998), the granddaughter of the Russell-Cotes, and Mrs Heading (1995). The house’s active exhibition programme has meant that artists see the Russell-Cotes as a lively venue for contemporary art and frequently give works to add to the collection. Thanks to the vision and generosity of these donors, artists and funders, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum today holds a truly remarkable collection.