Keith Vaughan works bequeathed to Chichester's Pallant House Gallery

A new bequest of six works by Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) will form the heart of a new display at Chichester's Pallant House Gallery.

Keith Vaughan, October Landscape
Keith Vaughan, October Landscape

The new works were bequeathed to the Gallery by Sir Peter Shaffer (1926-2016). Best known as the playwright who created Equus and Amadeus, Shaffer was a friend of the artist.

Both men had strong links with the Chichester area. Keith Vaughan was born in Selsey in 1912. Shaffer had connections with Chichester Festival Theatre. His play The Royal Hunt of the Sun premiered there in 1964, and the first production staged in the refurbished theatre in 2014 was a new production of Amadeus starring Rupert Everett.

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Simon Martin, Pallant House Gallery director, said: “This bequest forms an important addition to the gallery’s internationally-significant collection of modern British art.

“It includes the paintings Boy Carrying a Tomato Plant (1945), Figure Falling Forwards (1962-3) and October Landscape (1971).

“Created between 1944 and 1971, the works present a unique snapshot into Vaughan’s working life and the evolving development of his style and technique.

“Vaughan was born in Selsey and was largely self-taught as an artist.

“He was associated with the neo-romantic style of artists during the Second World War, which included his friends the painters Graham Sutherland and John Minton.

“In the 1950s and 60s he developed his own unique figurative style and visual language informed by continental abstract art and his interest in the male form, as a gay man.”

Shaffer bequeathed two-fifths of his estate to the HIV charity the Terence Higgins Trust, and the remaining 60 per cent was split equally between the National Trust, English Heritage and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. He also bequeathed Vaughan’s Fifth Assembly (Two Figures in Sequence (1957-8) to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Simon added: “This important bequest enriches Pallant House Gallery’s holdings of Keith Vaughan’s art through representative paintings and drawings from across the artist’s career.

“It contributes to our growing reputation as a collection of collections which reflects the tastes of individual collectors as well as the wider history of art and society.”

The exhibition Keith Vaughan: Recent Acquisitions runs at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery until January 27.