Important work by Peter Lanyon, one of Britain’s foremost post-war artists, acquired by the University of Liverpool

A large goache by Peter Lanyon (1918 – 1964) has been acquired for the nation and allocated to the Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool, through the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme. A second goache and an oil painting have been allocated to the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collection and Tate. They have been accepted from the estate of his widow, Sheila Lanyon.

The two gouaches were studies for murals the artist was to paint at Liverpool and Birmingham universities. The Birmingham mural was to be painted on board, and the Liverpool mural on an arrangement of ceramic tiles. These studies are full-size and differ considerably from the completed murals. As such they are both key works in themselves and important in tracing the development of Lanyon’s artistic thought when undertaking large public commissions. These gouaches are the first works allocated to Liverpool and Birmingham universities through the AIL scheme.

Dame Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool, said: “As well as being an internationally important and original painter, Peter Lanyon holds a particular place in the University of Liverpool’s heritage, having been first commissioned in 1959 to create a mural for the new Civil Engineering Building.  Without the AIL scheme, the acquisition of The Conflict of Man with Tides and Sands – a notable and unique sketch of the mural he created – would not have been possible.  Through the Victoria Gallery & Museum we will make it as accessible to as wide an audience as possible.”

Clevedon Bandstand, 1964, allocated to Tate, is an abstract landscape painting executed in the last year of Lanyon’s life, before his tragic early death resulting from complications from a gliding accident. It is one of a handful of paintings that indicate a striking new direction in his work, showing how his earlier use of heavily worked layers of paint had given way to thin washes of oil of a brighter and more primary palette.

Peter Lanyon was a Cornish painter, and part of the second generation of St Ives artists. His landscapes were heavily abstracted, though remained concerned with figural depiction.

The acceptance of the paintings settled just under £900,000 of tax. While their tax value exceeded the tax liability of the offerors, the Sheila Lanyon Estate waived some of the value of the three works and both the Tate and Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool, generously contributed £72,000 and £8,000 each from their own resources.

Edward Harley OBE, Chair, Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said: “I am delighted that two institutions which have never been allocated anything through AIL have received such significant works by Peter Lanyon, and that Tate should be allocated Clevedon Bandstand, one of his most celebrated works. Tate’s significant contribution and willingness in storing the artworks during the consideration of their offer, has meant that two regional institutions have been able to acquire works of great significance to them. As preparatory designs for public murals at these universities, it seems fitting that they should be allocated to Liverpool and Birmingham. This example of a national museum aiding those in the regions sets an admirable model for others to follow.”