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Philanthropist and arts patron announces $5.4 million gift to the Gallery

Gallery to receive 200 pieces of rare and exquisite 18th-century European porcelain

Francesco Xanto Avelli’s Sack of Rome plate 1530 and The Spanish lovers Meissen modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler c 1740-41 (detail) Kenneth Reed collection Promised bequest to the Art Gallery of New South Wales

16 October 2012: Kenneth Reed today announced his intention to bequeath to the Art Gallery of New South Wales his entire private collection of 200 pieces of rare and valuable 18th-century European porcelain valued at $5.4 million.

Mr Reed also helped the Gallery acquire an important Italian renaissance maiolica masterpiece, Francesco Xanto Avelli’s Sack of Rome plate of 1530 with his generous donation of $550,000.

‘This most generous gift to the Gallery represents a significant addition to the Gallery’s European collection. Ken has been one of our most generous benefactors in the history of this Gallery’, said Michael Brand, director, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Mr Reed, a Sydney-based retired lawyer, has been a collector of European paintings and decorative arts for more than 25 years. He says that he was inspired by visits as a child to the Art Gallery of New South Wales where his father used to take the family on Sunday afternoons.

The Gallery is to receive a spectacular group of parrots originally modelled at Meissen by Joseph Joachim Kändler for Augustus III’s consort, Maria Josepha of Austria, superlative examples of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain, including a rare rose marbré tea service, a unique piece of experimental hard paste from the early 1760s, plus exquisite Chelsea figures and wares from all periods of the factory’s production.

This promised gift transforms the Gallery’s presentation of European art. We have never owned anything comparable in range and quality to this collection but now the Gallery will be able to show some of the highest quality 18th-century porcelain in the world. The Gallery has had neglected holdings of European decorative arts until now. The decision to show 16th-18th-century ceramics alongside paintings of the same period will add a new dimension to the Gallery’s collection display. The Gallery is now also better placed to respond to an expected rise in public interest in ceramic history.
– Richard Beresford, senior curator of European art

In 2010 Kenneth Reed announced a bequest to the Gallery which then consisted of 25 old master paintings, 25 pieces of 18th-century porcelain and 22 pieces of Italian maiolica from the 16th and 17th centuries. The addition to his bequest of this European porcelain brings the total value of the bequest to almost $13 million, ranking Mr Reed among the top benefactors in the Gallery’s history.

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Susanne Briggs
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