Sir Abe Bailey Bequest
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Sir Abe Bailey Bequest and Trust

Sir Abe Bailey, the South African mining magnate, politician and financier was born at Cradock in the Cape in 1865 and educated in England. As a “second-generation” Randlord, he had a long business and political career based as much in South Africa as in England. In both countries he pursued his personal interests in horse racing, cricket, and hunting. These interests, as much as his aspirations to the titles and the lifestyle of the English landed gentry were influential in the formation of his personal art collection.

This collection was mostly displayed in his London home and moved for safe-keeping to the north of England during the Second World War (1939-1945). On his death in 1940, and in terms of his Will, Bailey placed his collection under the protection of a special Trust established in his name and bequeathed it to the South African nation. At his specific recommendation, this collection was placed under the curatorial care of the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, where it first went on display in 1947. Bailey was one of the very few South African Randlords to leave a bequest of this nature to South Africa. The others, for the most part, failed to leave any such legacy.

Numbering over 400 items, which includes paintings, prints and drawings, the Sir Abe Bailey Bequest is the largest bequest held at the SA National Gallery to this day. It also constitutes one of the largest collections of British sporting art held by any public art museum in the world. The Sir Abe Bailey Trust has remained actively involved in its maintenance, and in more recent years has made substantial contributions to ongoing conservation work on the collection. This provides funding for the conservation work to be carried out on the paintings, frames and work on paper.

For further informationn about Sir Abe Bailey and the Art Collection, visit:

Sir Abe Bailey

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