Latest art donation earns pride of place at King’s Lynn Town Hall

The mayor, Cllr David Whitby, and Dr Paul Richards with three Walter Dexter pictures at King's Lynn town hall. Photo: West Norfolk Council. ANL-161223-133905001
The mayor, Cllr David Whitby, and Dr Paul Richards with three Walter Dexter pictures at King's Lynn town hall. Photo: West Norfolk Council. ANL-161223-133905001
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Lynn Town Hall’s art collection has just got larger thanks to a generous donation of another painting by a renowned local artist.

The painting was donated by Emma Simmonds, whose father was a friend and patron of Walter Dexter.

The mayor, Cllr David Whitby, and Dr Paul Richards with the Walter Dexter picture 'Ely Cathedral' at King's Lynn town hall. Photo: West Norfolk Council. ANL-161223-133853001

The mayor, Cllr David Whitby, and Dr Paul Richards with the Walter Dexter picture 'Ely Cathedral' at King's Lynn town hall. Photo: West Norfolk Council. ANL-161223-133853001

The artwork, titled Ely Cathedral, is the third Dexter painting donated to West Norfolk Council by Mrs Simmonds.

The other two pieces, named View of King’s Lynn from the West and Common Staithe Quay, were donated by Mrs Simmonds in 1998.

At that time they were received by borough mayor Dr Paul Richards, so it seemed only fitting that Dr Richards, along with the current mayor David Whitby, returned to Mrs Simmonds’ home in Nottingham to be handed her third gift.

Mrs Simmonds, now 102, was unable to travel to Lynn to see the painting settled in pride of place in the town hall, but will receive a photographic record of its return to her home town.

The Walter Dexter picture 'Ely Cathedral' at King's Lynn town hall. Photo: West Norfolk Council. ANL-161223-133917001

The Walter Dexter picture 'Ely Cathedral' at King's Lynn town hall. Photo: West Norfolk Council. ANL-161223-133917001

Mr Whitby said: “The borough is very lucky to have acquired this wonderful painting by Dexter. It’s a lovely gesture from a kind-hearted lady who obviously feels a great connection to, and affection for, Lynn.

“I’m very pleased it will be hung in the town hall so people of the borough and visitors to this historic building will be able to see it.”

Dr Richards added: “A touch of artistic genius combined with an acute sense of place invest Dexter’s work with an exceptional quality – as evidenced by the three paintings donated by Emma Simmonds; the civic spirit of this 102-year-old lady is an inspiration.”

Walter Dexter is widely regarded as Lynn’s most important 20th century painter, who loved to paint Lynn’s riverfront from West and South Lynn.

Mrs Simmonds’ father, A. L. Dorer, was active in Lynn’s civic life, and used his influence to secure Dexter commissions to illustrate town guides and posters promoting the Port of Lynn.

The painting Ely Cathedral is typical of Dexter’s atmospheric style.

Painted in the 1940s, it travelled to South Africa as a gift to Mrs Simmonds’ brother; upon his death, it was returned to her.

The third gift from Mrs Simmonds brings the total of Dexter paintings owned by West Norfolk Council, and kept in the town hall, to six.