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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Cotton to Gold

Cotton to Gold, which ends tomorrow, is the fourth exhibition in the hugely successful Winter Exhibition Programme at Two Temple Place.

The magnificent and eccentric mansion has been transformed into a casket for the exquisite treasures of an extraordinary group of Lancashire magnates. As the cotton mills boomed, bringing development and deprivation hand in hand, this group of prominent industrialists privately, and sometimes secretively, poured their wealth into some of the finest and most astonishing collections in the country. Exceedingly rare Roman coins, priceless medieval manuscripts, Turner watercolours, Tiffany glass, Japanese prints, Byzantine icons, ivory sculptures and even preserved beetles and a Peruvian mummy.

For me, the highlights were the Books of Hours, the collection of icons, works by Blake, Hokusai, Millais and Turner.

As Claudia Pritchard notes in her review in The Independent:

'Religion was as much a driving force as mechanisation for some collectors, who engaged in posthumous philanthropy, perhaps storing up treasures in heaven by dispersing their treasures on earth. [Robert Edward] Hart, however, valued printed and handwritten books important to many faiths, demonstrating a perhaps unexpected religious inclusiveness and tolerance. So, as well as his Christian Book of Hours, with its jewel-like illuminations, the exhibition will include his precious copies of the Koran, a Jewish Torah scroll and other sacred texts. Hart’s own religious convictions were put into practice with the establishment of an orphanage in Blackburn that was the foundation of today’s Child Action Northwest, a charity caring for vulnerable children in the Blackburn area.'

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - Dreaming My Dreams.

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