Celebrating Sheffield galleries director with a passion for collecting

Frank Constantine, Director of City Art Galleries, pictured in the Graves Gallery - 25th March 1982''''Harry Francis Constantine
Frank Constantine, Director of City Art Galleries, pictured in the Graves Gallery - 25th March 1982''''Harry Francis Constantine
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The life of a popular former director of Sheffield’s art galleries is set to be celebrated with an exhibition in his memory.

Frank Constantine, who died last year aged 95, was director of Sheffield City Art Galleries from 1964 to 1982, and in that time oversaw some of their most important acquisitions and built a national reputation for the city in the art world.

The exhibition is at the Graves Gallery next month, and among the pieces on display will be works by David Hockney, Peter Coker, Ivon Hitchen and David Hepher.

Several works by Constantine - an artist in his own right - will also be on show.

Frank’s daughter Anne said her father knew the exhibition was being planned while he was still alive.

“Although it is sad that he is no longer here to see it, it will be a tremendous memorial to his professional life and his legacy to the cultural life of Sheffield,” she said.

“Although the purchasing budget in Sheffield was modest, my father was a very astute buyer and this exhibition will tell the story of his collecting for the Sheffield Art Galleries.

“Over nearly 20 years he invested significantly in twentieth century British and European art but also Persian and Chinese ceramics.

“I think people will be amazed at how interesting and appealing these works of art remain today and this is a unique opportunity to see them brought together.”

Frank, who lived off Brocco Bank, was born in Nether Green and initially joined the Graves Gallery as a curator in 1939 before serving in the army during World War Two.

He brought the first British Art Show to Sheffield in 1979 and was a director of the Guild of St George charity.

Liz Waring, curator of visual art at Museums Sheffield, said: “He was not only a skilled and informed collector, but an exceptionally kind and charismatic man and we hope that this exhibition not only reflects his achievements but also his tremendous passion to inspire.”

n The free exhibition - called A Cultural Legacy: Remembering Frank Constantine - runs from Saturday, June 13 until August 29.