The Museum has just acquired an iconic 19th Century portrait of the rower Edward Hawks in The Gentleman’s Library sale at Bonhams, Knightsbridge. The lot gained widespread media attention and a great deal of interest because of its subject’s association with Henry Clasper. Clasper was known for revolutionising the sport of rowing when it was one of the most popular sports in Britain through his pioneering boat and oar designs. Hawks, who is illustrated in the painting in front of Durham Cathedral, was a member of the 1845 Newcastle rowing crew, captained by Henry Clasper, Hawks’ nephew, that gained notoriety by winning the ‘Champion of the World’ prize at the Thames Regatta.
The painting will go on display as part of the Museum’s permanent collection in the The Schwarzenbach International Rowing Gallery from March, as part of the professional rowing display. The acquisition was funded in equal measure by a legacy from Mr David Lunn-Rockliffe, one of the Museum’s founders and a past Chairman of Trustees, and matched by a grant from the V&A Purchase Fund.