Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has loaned a painting from her Royal Collection to Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum.
The River Llugwy near Bettws-y-Coed by Benjamin Williams Leader will be on display as part of the Benjamin Williams Leader: Blest by the Suns of Home exhibition from 17 February until 2 June.
Benjamin Williams Leader was born in Worcester in 1831. He was the son of civil engineer Edward Leader Williams who designed the Diglis Lock. The young Leader grew up in Diglis House (now Diglis Hotel), attended the city's Royal Grammar School and painted on the banks of the Severn with his father's friend and famous landscape artist, John Constable. Leader began his career as a draftsman at his father's firm but, unlike his brother who went on to design the Manchester Ship Canal, the young Leader found his calling outside of engineering, and studied at Worcester School of Design before going on to the Royal Academy Schools in 1854. Leader achieved recognition unusually early in his career at the Royal Academy, with his work selected for the prestigious Summer Exhibition during his first year of studying. This was the beginning of a long and prosperous career, with Leader exhibiting in the Summer Exhibition every year until he was 91.
Leader sold The River Llugwy near Bettws-y-Coed to King George V during World War One when he was 83 years old. The exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum will explore how the war impacted the elderly Leader's life, the reception of his paintings and the country's relationship with the landscape around them. With artworks from the Worcester City collection as well as loans from private and public collections, the exhibition is a testament to Leader's ability to create vast and stirring rural visions in paint.
Benjamin Williams Leader: Blest by the Suns of Home is part of Worcestershire World War One Hundred. Funded through Heritage Lottery Fund, Worcestershire World War One Hundred is one of the largest programmes of events across England commemorating the First World War involving cultural and heritage organisations county-wide from 2014 until 2018.