The Timaru Herald

The Grant family’s art of giving

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Sir James Guthrie, Study, c.1888. Pastel on paper. Aigantighe Art Gallery Acc. No. 1972.3

Opening this weekend at the Aigantighe Art Gallery is an exhibition co-organised by the gallery and Presbyteri­an Support South Canterbury.

The Art of Giving – A Tale of Two Homes and Their Legacy celebrates the gift of both Aigantighe House and The Croft to the Timaru public by the Grant family, the former to serve as an art gallery in 1955, and the latter as a home for the elderly in 1968.

The story of the family and their bequest will be told through artworks from the gallery’s permanent collection.

Sir James Guthrie, a leading Scottish painter in the late 19th century, was the uncle of Lorna Grant (née Guthrie), who married James Grant, son of Alexander and Helen, the original owners of Aigantighe.

Guthrie was a member of the Glasgow Boys, a group of Impression­ist and Postimpres­sionist painters known for their portrayals of rural life around Glasgow.

His elder brother, John Guthrie, was a surgeon based in Christchur­ch. The brothers reconnecte­d during John’s trip back to Britain, by which time James was a reputable artist.

Guthrie painted his niece Lorna several times. Study (c.1888), a pastel drawing, could also depict the young girl, though the sitter is unidentifi­ed in the artwork’s title.

Lorna Grant lived in Timaru with her husband James, whom she married in 1916.

The couple inherited the Grant family farm at Gray’s Hill Station near Burke’s Pass when Alexander retired, remaining there until 1948, when they themselves retired.

Like Helen and Alexander, the couple relocated to Timaru, where they purchased and lived at The Croft, 12 Park Lane.

James and Lorna Grant were instrument­al in the donation of the Aigantighe to the city and its conversion into an art gallery upon Helen’s death, and they also gifted their personal art collection, which included this portrait.

The Art of Giving – A Tale of Two Homes and Their Legacy opened on Thursday and continues through May 5.

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