Mr Felton's Bequests

Front Cover
The Miegunyah Press, Jan 1, 2008 - Art - 669 pages
Alfred Felton, a bachelor of definite opinions and benignly eccentric habits, was one of the remarkable group of Melbourne merchants who dominated the economy of the Australian colonies in the decades after the gold rush. In 1904 he left his substantial fortune in trust, the income to be spent by a committee of his friends, half on charities (especially for women and children), and half on works of art for the National Gallery of Victoria, works calculated to 'raise and improve public taste'. The Gallery suddenly gained acquisition funds greater than those of London's National and Tate galleries combined, and between 1904 and 2004 more than 15 000 items were purchased for it by the Felton Bequest. 'Although the last quarter of the twentieth century saw a dramatic and exciting expansion of Australian art museums', Patrick McCaughey writes in the foreword of this book, 'no institution could hope to replicate the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria assembled under the aegis of the Felton Bequest.' How the Felton Bequests' Committee carried out its tasks, in cooperation and sometimes in conflict with the Trustees of the Gallery, is a human story of many triumphs and occasional follies, of decisions made and unmade amid changing notions of art, philanthropy and public taste. John Poynter's account of Felton's life and the story of his Bequests covers most of Melbourne's history, from the unusual view point of three themes, business, art and charity.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


0450 Poynter_188_HR
0450 Poynter_231_HR
0450 Poynter_358359_HR
0450 Poynter_408_HR
0450 Poynter_566_HR
0450 Poynter_577_HR
0450 Poynter_583607_HR_2
0450 Poynter_608635_HR_2
0450 Poynter_636637_HR
0450 Poynter_638643_HR
0450 Poynter_644654_HR
0450 Poynter_655672_HR_2

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

John Poynteris an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Australia Centre at the University of Melbourne, and was formerly Ernest Scott Professor of History and a Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. He spends his time in retirement writing history, biography and sardonic verse. His most recent work is a history of the Rhodes Scholarships in Australia, included in the centenary History of the Rhodes Trust, published in Oxford in 2001.

Bibliographic information