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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Museum makes sisters art appeal
Renoir's La Parisienne (picture: National Museum of Wales)
Renoir's La Parisienne was donated to the national museum
Memories of two sisters who bequeathed paintings by Monet and Renoir to the National Museum of Wales are being collected for an exhibition.

Gwendoline and Margaret Davies who lived at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown, Powys, amassed a renowned collection.

The museum is appealing to people who knew the sisters to come forward.

Their memories will be recorded for an exhibition in their memory which will help celebrate the museum's centenary next year.

Gwendoline Davies, who died in 1951 and Margaret Davies, who died in 1963, built one of the great British art collections of the 20th Century, according the National Museum of Wales.

They bequeathed 260 works "completely transforming" the museum's art collection in "character, quality and range".

Monet's Waterlilies (picture: National Museum of Wales)
Van Gogh

The sisters were granddaughters of David Davies of Llandinam, who made his fortune from coal mining, railways and the docks in Wales.

In 1908, the sisters started collecting paintings and by 1924 they had built up one of the largest and most important collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist works in the UK.

They also owned works by Van Gogh and Turner.

The national museum in Cardiff said it had already collected a few memories of the sisters for posterity.

Retired teacher Doreen Shuker, 77, is among those who have already contributed to the project.

Mrs Shuker's father was foreman gardener on the Gregynog estate with responsibility for the greenhouses. She lived on the estate with her parents as a young girl.

She said: "The sisters were very much involved in the local community and were very aware of people's needs and not aloof.

The Davies sisters (picture: University of Wales)
The Davies sisters started their art collection in 1908

"If someone was ill in the community it was not uncommon for the sisters to send them either flowers, fruit or logs."

Mrs Shuker said she knew Margaret Davies, known locally as Miss Daisy, reasonably well.

"She loved art and could usually be found somewhere on the estate painting away," she said.

"Miss Daisy came to my wedding in 1957 and after my husband and I moved to the next village she would come and visit."

The sisters also founded the Gregynog Music Festival, attracting the likes of Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Holst. The festival survives to this day, taking place every June.

Ann Sumner, of the National Museum Wales, said: "Much has been written about the Davies sisters and their interest in art, but this exhibition will seek to place Gwendoline and Margaret into a wider context.

"It is always said for instance that in order to go into service at Gregynog it was necessary to have a good singing voice and that all household duties would cease for choir practice."

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