Cumbria Crack

Undiscovered West Cumbrian portrait takes centre stage in new exhibition

Ben Walker with Kenworthy portrait of Elizabeth Dixon his mother in law

A portrait painted by the renowned St Bees based artist John Dalzell Kenworthy is on show at The Beacon Museum this month.

The portrait is part of the museum’s Curators Choice exhibition which unearths Copeland objects visitors may not have seen or heard about before.

The subject of the portrait is Mrs Elizabeth Dixon who for 30 years, until Kenworthy’s death, worked as his housekeeper at his home in St Bees village.

The Beacon Museum already holds a number of works by Royal Academician John Dalzell Kenworthy including a fine self-portrait and the painting of Whitehaven wartime hero Abraham Acton VC.

In the newly donated picture, his housekeeper, known as Lizzie, is captured in oils by the artist and was painted in 1948. Mrs Dixon (nee Jackman) was St Bees born and lived with her husband Leslie and daughter Gwendoline at Hygiene Place in the village.

Gwendoline Walker (nee Kentworthy) died in 2008, after 55 years of marriage to Benny Walker and in her memory her husband has decided to donate the painting of her mother to the Beacon Museum. He has also met the cost of its restoration and framing and is delighted it is now on public display.

Mr Walker, 88, originally from Church Street, Frizington, said: “Gwen and I married at St Bees Priory in 1953, the year before J. D. Kenworthy died. He was a key guest and spoke at our wedding.

“His brother, the Rev Gordon Kenworthy later baptised our son, Richard.  My mother-in-law was very proud of the painting and had it hanging on the wall of her home for as long as I can remember.”

Elizabeth Kwasnik, Director of The Beacon Museum, said: “We are delighted that this piece has taken pride of place in the museum collection.

“With many of Kenworthy’s other pieces on display we can start to tell a more complete account of his life and work.

“Mrs Dixon’s portrait will add to what is already a very rich and varied collection of artefacts and artwork that most members of the public will not have had the opportunity to see before.”

The Curator’s Choice exhibition runs until Sunday, December 1. Also featuring will be other lesser-seen objects such as a Maori cloak and prehistoric tools and implements, alongside artefacts from Cumbria Constabulary and original Sekers dresses.

Entry for Copeland residents is free with a Copeland Pass up until December 31, 2019, and visitors can also visit the British Museum Spotlight Loan exhibition, The Golden Age of Satire, featuring late-Georgian satirical prints, which runs until January 12, 2020.

Standard admission otherwise applies. The exhibition is suitable for all ages.

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