The existence and excellence of Southampton Art Gallery owes much to its first benefactor, Robert Chipperfield. Chipperfield was born in Bloomsbury, London in 1817, but moved to Southampton in 1842. By 1845 had opened a chemist shop in Richmond Place, Shirley, later moving to premises in Hamilton Place, Commercial Road. At first he continued to live in Shirley but afterwards moved to Redcliffe House in Upper Moira Place, Above Bar Street, where he spent the rest of his life.

He retired from his businesses in 1879 and devoted his time to charitable works and public offices. He was a local councillor for 17 years and a JP for 23 years.

He died in 1911 a very wealthy man. In his will he left a considerable sum of money for the building of an art gallery and art school, and the establishment of a trust for the purchase of works of art. The terms of the bequest were a matter of dispute and there resulted a long legal action which was not fully resolved until 1930, by which time the new Civic Centre buildings were under construction. Eventually, the money from the Chipperfield bequest was used as a contribution to the building of the north block of the Civic Centre, which incorporated an art gallery and art school.

Chipperfield stipulated that the further sum for the purchase of works of art should be spent under the supervision of the Director of the National Gallery, Kenneth Clarke. Clarke’s carefully planned spending built the collection into one of the finest in England outside London.

Robert Chipperfield

Image Unavailable

Undated photograph


Newspaper clippings:

Mr. R. Chipperfield, J.P. (obituary) - (Southampton Times 05/08/1911)
Notes for exhibition to commemorate centenary of death of Robert Chipperfield - (Jean Watts, 2011)


Further reading:
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton City Art Gallery. (HS/t)
'Life and Legacy of Robert Chipperfield', by Tim Craven et al, in Fosmag Magazine, No. 69, Autumn 2011, p6-7. (HS/lt)
'The Test of Time', by Tim Craven et al, in Fosmag Magazine, No. 68, Spring 2011, p8-10. (HS/lt)


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