Appeal success - 'A Game of Bowls' to remain at Ightham Mote

We're pleased to announce that John Singer Sargent's painting 'A Game of Bowls' will remain at Ightham Mote. On behalf of everyone here, and all at the National Trust, thank you so much for your help in making this happen.

" We are so delighted to secure this wonderful portrayal of a moment in Ightham Mote’s history for our visitors."
- Bernadette Gillow - General Manager, Ightham Mote and North Kent

When we first learned that John Singer Sargent had painted a picture capturing a view of Ightham Mote, we were keen to find it, and borrow it for an exhibition. But the opportunity to purchase this large-scale painting for the nation was something we could only dream about.   

Measuring 229cm x 143cm, 'A Game of Bowls' depicts the house in 1889, with its American tenant at the time Mary Lincoln 'Queen' Palmer and her daughter Elsie enjoying a game of bowls on the north lawn with their friends (including Singer Sargent's sister Violet).

 

What is special about this painting?

The painting is an example of Sargent in his experimental mode. It's a large-scale landscape in the English manner, but painted in a modernist French style. Due to the size of the painting, it was clearly composed with exhibition in mind, and it appeared in Joe Comyns Carr's 'New Gallery' the year after it was painted.

A friend and protege of Claude Monet and a member of the British avant-garde, Sargent's work was yet to be fully accepted by either critics of the public at the time A Game of Bowls was painted. As with many of his previous pictures, this was classed as 'eccentric'.

" Ightham Mote is the perfect home for Sargent's 'A Game of Bowls'. It's truly part of the house's history. We're delighted to support its acquisition."
- Stephen Deuchar - Director, Art Fund

How have we managed to purchase the painting?

The painting became available for a private sale brokered by Sotheby's New York and the necessary funds were raised thanks to funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, who donated £175,000, and Art Fund who donated £100,000. A further £75,000 was raised thanks to the generosity of visitors and supporters of Ightham Mote.

" Many thanks to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Art Fund for their sizeable contributions, our visitors and supporters for giving so generously, and the property team of staff and volunteers for their championing of the cause."