Thy virtue merits more

17th century gold seal matrix

The Friends have contributed to Leeds Museum acquiring this unusual gold post medieval seal matrix.

The 17th century seal imprints a heart design that has been pierced by an arrow, with four drops of blood beneath.

It is likely that this was given as a love token as it is inscribed with the romantic sentiment “thy virtue merits more” in a handwritten font- although the curators at Leeds Museum have a different take on it, featured on their blog. They debate that it may in fact have religious significance with reference to the Christian faith.

Dressed for Battle


Leeds City Museums are showcasing military tailoring in their new exhibition Dressed for Battle. The Lotherton Hall display features an Alexander McQueen outfit which the Friends contributed to.
You can see the McQ woollen coat, belt and boots from Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, whilst learning about how the legacy of war has contributed to fashion.Dressed for Battle by McQueen

Alexander McQueen died in 2010 with a reputation as one of the most significant, imaginative, and provocative designers of his generation. Internationally acclaimed, he won ‘British Designer of the Year’ four times between 1996 and 2003 and was also named ‘International Designer of the Year’ by the Council of Fashion Designers in 2003.

The military outfit was designed under Sarah Burton, Creative Director of the label after McQueen’s death. The label has seen considerable success under this leadership with the Alexander McQueen fashion house selected to make the wedding dress for Katherine Middleton when she married Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
See Dressed for Battle at Lotherton Hall until January 2014
Images: Coat from the McQ label by Alexander McQueen, part of the Autumn / Winter Collection 2012.

Industrial Landscape by Jacob Kramer

Jacob Kramer’s Industrial Landscape (1914)  is one of the latest works the Friends have been able to contribute to. Kramer is an important part of Leeds’ artistic past, being a highly respected artist of his day and since, with his work being shown in galleries across the UK. 

After moving from Russia at a young age, he grew up and studied at Leeds School of Art, now Leeds College of Art. A large number of his works are already housed in Leeds Art Gallery but this landscape is a rarity for Kramer, an artist known for his portraiture, making this work all the more significant and being a unique part of the Gallery’s collection.

Kramer’s subject of a bleak northern town is suggestive of the period, as Britain was on the edge of the First World War. The piece shows a country devastated by war, both in the physical landscape and in human life. 

See Kramer’s work, as well as other local artists at Leeds Art Gallery.

Portrait of Richard Paley (circa 1802)

Richard Paley (1746-1808) was an early Leeds industrialist and entrepreneur specialising in cotton spinning, opening two steam powered cotton spinning mills in 1790.  He is seen as one of the fathers of large scale industry in Leeds, although his progressiveness was also his downfall, with the cotton industry later receding in Leeds for wool production.

The portrait will be added to the City’s collection of portraits of early Leeds industrialists.

Grimshaw’s view of Leeds

John Atkinshaw Grimshaw is one of the best known Leeds artists of the 19th century and so the Friends were happy to be able to contribute to a piece so significant to our local history. 

Showing an important time in Leeds’ social history, this view of Leeds from Woodhouse Ridge shows the beginnings of Leeds’ urban expansion as the city’s Victorian industrialisation encroached on the surrounding countryside. This juxtaposition between the urban and the rural is a subject frequently revisited in Grimshaw’s work.

The scene shows figures, one of which is said to be Grimshaw’s wife, looking over Leeds, towards St Chad’s church. 

This work has been added to an already extensive collection of Grimshaw’s paintings owned by Leeds Museum and Galleries. It will soon be added to The Leeds Story exhibition at Leeds City Museum.

View from Woodridge