Marks and Spencer, the well-known retailer that was founded in the city’s Kirkgate Market in 1884, has made a loan of five major artworks for the benefit of the people of its home city, Leeds. The five artworks now on public display are by world famous artists Claude Monet, LS Lowry, JMW Turner, Maurice de Vlaminck and Edward Seago.

These prestigious artworks, some of which have never been on public display, are now exhibited in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. The five artworks are on display alongside the University of Leeds’s own exemplary Art Collection.

Marks & Spencer has a strong link with Leeds, with founder Michael Marks setting up his first penny bazaar in Leeds in 1884, before joining forces with Tom Spencer in 1894. The relationship has continued with the M&S Company Archive establishing their home on the University of Leeds campus in 2012. The award-winning M&S Company Archive enables Marks & Spencer to celebrate and utilise its rich heritage for the good of the business, its customers and the wider community.

M&S Company Archivist Katharine Carter said:

As a business, Marks & Spencer is committed to sharing our own heritage through the work of our Company Archive, so it’s very fitting that these wonderful art treasures are now available for people to view and enjoy here in Leeds. They are fantastic pieces and we’re delighted that our partnership with the University of Leeds enables them to be experienced by the wider audience that they deserve.

The ‘father’ of Impressionism

Claude Monet, Automne à Jeufosse, oil on canvas, c. 1884. Lent by Marks and Spencer Group plc for the benefit of the City of Leeds.

Claude Monet, the ‘father’ of Impressionism, was fascinated by the changing light and colours of the moment, seasons and weather. This piece depicts Jeufosse, near his home at Giverny in France, where Monet painted several views. He painted outdoors in his boat, in different seasons. Waiting ‘with a hunter’s concentration’ for the light to change, he would work quickly to render the particular colours of that moment. Now on display in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, this is the first time since 1963 that this artwork has been exhibited for all to enjoy.

The Morning after the Fire

JMW Turner, The Pantheon, the Morning after the Fire, watercolour on paper, 1792. Lent by Marks and Spencer Group plc for the benefit of the City of Leeds.

Never having been on public display, this artwork by Turner was sketched when he was only 16, following a fire at the Pantheon Assembly Rooms. This destructive event – a suspected arson – clearly made a great impression. The young artist depicted the ruined opera house faithfully from different angles and exhibited one of these sketches at the Royal Academy. The location of the former theatre enjoyed a new lease of life when M&S opened an impressive new store, designed in the art deco style, on the Pantheon site in 1938.

All five artworks are now on display in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds. Entry is free. For more information including opening times, visit our website.