Charles Lambert Rutherston (1866-1927) was the older brother of the artists William Rothenstein (1872-1945) and Albert Rutherston (1881-1953). After training at Bradford’s Technical College and showing some talent as an artist, Charles followed his father into the textile industry. A successful businessman, he remained a keen supporter of the arts and collected widely, from Chinese bronzes to contemporary prints. Rutherston played a key role in the careers of many young artists – including Gwen and Augustus John, Paul Nash, Wyndham Lewis and Henry Moore – as well as being the leading patron of his brother William. Wyndham Lewis noted that Rutherston was one of the few men he allowed into his studio: ‘For him I left the gate ajar. This was not only because one naturally likes people who came “collecting” the works of one’s hands, but because he was one of the pleasantest and least affected people of my acquaintance’.
Throughout his life Rutherston donated select works to national collections such as the Tate, before deciding in 1925 to leave the entirety of his collection to Manchester. Rutherston strongly believed that ‘works of art ought to be accessible to all who desire to enjoy them […] a possessor of works of art is a trustee to the public and is not entitled to keep them to himself’. His bequest was made, therefore, on the understanding that the pictures would be circulated to teaching institutions in Lancashire and Yorkshire, allowing students to familiarise themselves with fine works of art. His collection circulated in this way for many years, before being considered impractical as a scheme.
Rutherston started collecting contemporary work in the 1890s and continued into the 1920s. Ten of his Edwardian paintings are listed below. The first two were donated to the Tate in 1917; the remaining works are now in the collection of Manchester City Art Galleries.
1. Ambrose McEvoy, The Ear-Ring, c.1910
2. William Rothenstein, The Doll’s House, 1899
3. Augustus John, Merikli, 1902
4. Gwen John, The Student, 1903
5. Charles Conder, Self-Portrait, 1895-1900
6. David Muirhead, Night Shadows, c.1900
7. Charles Holmes, The Mythen, Switzerland, 1903
8. Lucien Pissaroo, Wild Boar Fell, Brough, 1914
9. Walter Sickert, The Blue Hat, c.1911
10. Joseph Southall, A Bucket of Salt Water, 1912