Major collection of artwork donated to Northampton museum

The Shepherd's Calendar
The Shepherd's Calendar
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A major collection of artworks by celebrated artist Peter Newcombe has been donated to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

The exquisite collection of 12 ink and wash drawings illustrate the poetry of Northamptonshire Peasant Poet John Clare.

Newcombe grew up in the Northamptonshire countryside in the 1950s and the countryside he saw was just as Clare described it in his third collection of poems, The Shepherd’s Calendar. In 1968 Newcombe began the drawings which bring Clare’s words to life. Each of the drawings was completed in the appropriate month and together they depict the changeable nature of the Northamptonshire countryside through the year.

Fellow artist Jackson Stops said about the series of drawings: “It is as if they are a ghostly insight into an actual vision of the past.”

The drawings were first exhibited in Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in 1968 to great national acclaim and became Newcombe’s first major success as an artist. Since then he has exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour and Royal Society of British Artists. One of his more recent showings was at the Northampton museum where he exhibited his Shepherd’s Calendar series and other paintings as part of a special exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of John Clare’s death (1793-1864).

The gifted drawings represent a significant art donation to the museum and will be “much appreciated by visitors and scholars for years to come” said councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council which runs the museum service.

Councillor Mackintosh added: “As the Shepherd’s Calendar drawings were shown for the first time at our Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, it somehow seems very fitting that they are to return. Peter Newcombe is a wonderful artist who absolutely captures the natural beauty of our county; his love for Northamptonshire shines out. This is a very exciting gift that we are absolutely delighted to accept.”