A unique exhibition: Katharine House Gallery hosts Peter O’Toole's eclectic collection

Written by Sue Round on .

Chris Gange holding the Sican Gold Mask - with other items including the Luristan Bronze Short SwordChris Gange holding the Sican Gold Mask - with other items including the Luristan Bronze Short SwordAn exhibition of many works of art and ancient artefacts from Peter O'Toole's unique private collection is coming to Marlborough's Katharine House Gallery - the sixteenth century building at the bottom of The Parade.

Chris Gange, owner of the gallery, told Marlborough.News: "I have been dealing for over 25 years in the unusual mixture of Twentieth Century British paintings, sculpture and ceramics alongside antiquities, tribal art and curios from around the world."

"The opportunity to exhibit these splendid and eclectic pieces from Peter O’Toole’s collection came as a delightful surprise, fitting my Gallery like a glove.”

Award winning actor, Peter O’Toole, who died in 2013, is perhaps best known for his role as Lawrence of Arabia in the David Lean film of 1962.

It was during the shooting of this film (one of the longest shooting schedules in cinema history) in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco that O’Toole’s passion for collecting antiquities began.

The exhibition, which opens on May 13, includes over 70 items ranging from a Luristan bronze short sword (dated eighth to tenth century BC) to a Sir Jacob Epstein bronze portrait bust entitled Third Portrait of Deidre (1942) which used to sit in the drawing room of the O’Toole family home.

Photo by Ken Danvers (1911-1980): Peter O’Toole with Alec Guinness on the set of ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ (1961/62)  Original vintage photograph. Production stamps on the back signed by Danvers - David Lean’s regular stills photographerPhoto by Ken Danvers (1911-1980): Peter O’Toole with Alec Guinness on the set of ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ (1961/62) Original vintage photograph. Production stamps on the back signed by Danvers - David Lean’s regular stills photographerEarthenware dog effigy vessel, Colima, Mexico. 1st C BC - 3rd C ADEarthenware dog effigy vessel, Colima, Mexico. 1st C BC - 3rd C ADSeveral items of the collection reflect O’Toole’s fascination with Pre-Columbian art and culture which began when he was filming Murphy’s Law in 1971. Chris Gange has chosen his favourite piece in the exhibition: “I am most impressed by the Colima Dog effigy (circa 100 B.C-300 A.D). Dogs were indigenous to the ancient Americas. They served as companions, hunting partners, underworld guides and even sources of food.”

O’Toole was indefatigable in adding to his collection. “He used to like to go off with local people to archaeological sites, a bit like Indiana Jones! He donated several minor archaeological artefacts to the British Museum.”

The exhibition also includes paintings by Patrick Oliver, a lifelong friend of O’Toole, who was tutor to Damien Hirst and Marcus Harvey, together with numerous curios and souvenirs.

Peter O’Toole’s daughter, Kate, who will be attending the opening of the exhibition on May 13 is delighted Katharine House Gallery is exhibiting part of her father’s collection of art and antiquities: "One of his great joys in life was to study and collect works of art from the many cultures and countries that he visited during his long film career. This exhibition will give people a unique opportunity to see and appreciate this little known aspect of my father’s personality.”

These items from the collection are for sale with prices ranging from £50 to £9500.  Some have been sold prior to the exhibition's opening.  The catalogue can be seen on the Katharine House website.

The exhibition runs from May 13 to June 24, Monday to Saturday 10.00 - 5.30.  Entry is free.

Teotihuacan ‘Portrait Heads’ - £60-£95 eachTeotihuacan ‘Portrait Heads’ - £60-£95 each

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