Best remembered as the dynamic and acquisitive Director of Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums from 1939 to 1954, Tom Honeyman (1891-1971) began his career studying medicine at Glasgow University (matriculating in 1909), which he combined with evening classes at Glasgow School of Art. In 1929 he gave up medicine to join the Glasgow gallery of the art-dealers, Reid and Lefevre, moving to their London premises in 1932. The early years of his directorship of Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums coincided with the war, when he oversaw the reorganisation of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (introducing special exhibitions and popular afternoon lectures) and made efforts to establish a separate museum describing the history of Glasgow.
His own particular interest was in modern French painting. He met Matisse, Bonnard, Braque and Dali while working for Reid and Lefevre, as well as several notable Scottish collectors who would subsequently gift works to the Glasgow collection during Honeyman's tenure. This included the McInnes bequest, with works by Bonnard, Braque, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Seurat, none of whom were previously represented; the Cargill gift, including Corot, Courbet and Seurat; and in 1943 Sir William Burrell's decision to gift to Glasgow his vast collection of art and antiquities.
Honeyman's foresight in purchasing in 1952 Dalí's "Christ of St John of the Cross" was widely criticised at the time, but now is his best known legacy to Glasgow. Honeyman also served as first chairman of the Scottish Tourist Committee, was on the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, was a founding board member of the Citizens Theatre and was a Rector of Glasgow University.
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