Kettering has its own centrally-located art gallery, housing a rich
collection of paintings, ranging from 19th-century works to 21st century
works, by contemporary artists.
Local artist, Alfred East,
wanted to make art accessible to Kettering workers and created a strong
stimulus for a public gallery to be built. He shared ideas with
philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who gifted a library to Kettering in
1904 to give the working man the opportunity for self-development.
Collection was started when ‘The Connoisseur’, a portrait by W B Gash,
of a wellknown local antique dealer, was purchased by local subscribers
and presented to the town as a possible foundation for a permanent art
In 1910, East received a knighthood in the King’s Birthday Honours
List. This was celebrated with a banquet at the Royal Hotel, Kettering.
At this celebration East presented the town with the painting, Midland
Meadows, which initially hung in the Public Library for three years.
town soon accepted a much larger gift by East, a collection of seventy
of his best works. The condition of the gift was that the town should
build a purpose-built gallery to house this body of work.
by public subscription, the Alfred East Art Gallery was officially
opened on 31st July, 1913, by Earl Spencer, K.G., Lord Lieutenant of
Northamptonshire. Unfortunately, Sir Alfred East was unable to attend
due to ill health, but was represented by his nephew, W D’ Este Emery.
greatly wished for recovery never took place and, less than three
months later, the great artist passed away without seeing his gift of
works hung in a gallery in his native town.