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The Watlington (European) Collection
The Watlington Collection of eighteen historic European paintings were bequeathed to the people of Bermuda by founding Trustee, the late Hon. Hereward T. Watlington (1902 – 1989) in 1989 with the proviso that the paintings be housed in a climate controlled facility to the standard of the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Since a proper climate control facility did not exist, this was the catalyst for the development of the Bermuda National Gallery, which opened its doors in 1992.
The Collection is owned by the Government of Bermuda and is on permanent loan to the Gallery. The remainder of the European Collection includes paintings that have been gifted or loaned to the Gallery. The Watlington Collection includes rare and valuable paintings from a number of well-known artists such as Gainsborough and Reynolds, who painted from the 15th to 18th centuries. It is a very personal collection that was put together over the course of 30 years by somebody who himself was a gifted artist.
Mr. Watlington studied painting in Paris until his brother died during World War I and he returned home to Bermuda. Mr. Watlington believed in the longevity of the human spirit and the way it lives on through everyday life. His experiences and dreams have been captured in a breathtaking collection of his own paintings which still hang in his family home, “Woodside”, in Devonshire. In addition to the 18 paintings, the Gallery also holds every letter of correspondence between Hereward Watlington and his dealer in England. Because of his love affair with art, Mr. Watlington died a happy man on a garden bench in Versailles, France in 1989.