Welcome to The Orchar Collection: Prints

The collection of James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1898), Dundee industrialist and inventor, consists of over 400 works (paintings and drawings) held by The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum since 1987. It is an extremely rare collection in that it remains as a collection, evidence of one man’s personal taste. Orchar was an important patron of the Arts and fostered a number of personal relationships with the artists whose work he collected. The value of Orchar’s art collection lies in its local and national significance. It is a rare existing example of the interests of a prominent late Victorian collector and subsequently provides in microcosm a considerable illustration of the tastes and fashions of the period. The collection, and Orchar himself, deserves wider acknowledgement and warrant further research and study.

Whilst the majority of oils in Orchar’s Collection are by Scottish artists, Orchar favoured English and Continental artists for his prints collection, including works by Sir Hubert Herkomer, James Clarke Hook, Josef Israëls and Samuel Palmer. By far the largest selections in his collection are the eighteen by Sir Francis Seymour Haden and the thirty-six by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

The main focus of The Orchar Collection: Prints project has been to research and create an online catalogue of the prints held in Orchar’s original collection which was gathered roughly between 1867 and his death in 1898 and bring these works to the wider public. Many of the works are rare and important pieces which have been rarely exhibited and little researched. The project was a collaboration between the University of St Andrews’ School of Art History and The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museums and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Engagement Fund. It was complemented by an exhibition “Prints from the Orchar Collection: Whistler and Others” which was held at the School of Art History Reception between 19th April and 22nd May 2013.

The project was researched and written by Dr William Rough of the School of Art History, University of St Andrews. The Orchar Collection: Prints website was designed and developed by zenelements, Dundee.

As a work in progress the project welcomes any information on Orchar and the works in his collection. Please get in touch via the contact page.