This was a private art gallery set up by Henry Buchan in 1827 at 159 High Street. Buchan was a house decorator, carver and gilder who had come to Southampton from Portsmouth in 1823. His interest in art led him to set up a gallery where he offered local artists the use of well lit spacious rooms to display their works. Funding for the gallery was secured partly by patronage from Hampshire notables and partly by subscription. The first exhibition opened to subscribers on the 24 July and to the general public on the following day. Subscribers paid a guinea a year for entrance to the exhibitions and previews. A further guinea allowed them to borrow drawings and prints for copying.
Although the venture met with initial scepticism, for many doubted the possibility of success of such a gallery in a provincial town, it was very well received by the local press. The Southampton Herald of 30 July 1827 reported: “Those who thought contemptuously , and those who spoke slightingly, of this attempt to bring our provincial painters before the public, and afford amusement and instruction to all classes, by a display of varied art, are completely put to silence by the quality of the pictures”. William Shayer was one of the artists to display work here, and one of the most successful in terms of sales. Portrait painter Philip Augustus Gaugain and his wife Anne also displayed work here.
After the initial year, when three exhibitions were held, the gallery settled for two exhibitions per year. By 1835 the gallery was regarded as a permanent institution.
The Rise of English Provincial Art, by Trevor Fawcett, p191-2. (709.034)
The Shayer Family of Painters, by Brian Stewart and Mervyn Cutten, p9-12. (HS/q)
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