Henry Tate

This is the story of Henry Tate, founder of the Tate Gallery in London. There are now four Tate Galleries in the UK, and while this volume is intended as an introduction for a child visiting the original London Gallery, it would also be useful as an introduction to galleries elsewhere, and to the reason why someone would begin to collect art works and make them available to the public.


The story begins with Tate as a little boy who loved to grow things. Subsequently his talent for horticulture linked to his good business sense and the opening of, first, many greengrocer shops and, later, a sugar factory. Before long, Tate had become a household name for this commodity. Then one day, the successful entrepreneur saw a painting in a gallery window which stopped him in his tracks, so he turned his abilities to acquiring an outstanding collection of artworks.


Ingman’s drawings and text are delightfully child-friendly. We see Henry as a busy boy, working in his garden and as an adult relaxing by his fireside with his paintings. Loosely structured images contrast splendidly with the more formal paintings shown on the walls of Tate’s house, and later in his gallery, inviting the child ‘visitor’ to stop and look.


My one caveat is that the paintings are not titled. This would be useful and lead to further discussions, since this book is most likely to be read by children and adults together.