The collection of paintings held at Robert Gordon University originated in Gray’s School of Art, which is now part of the University. This School was founded in 1885 thanks to John Gray (1811–1891), a local businessman and philanthropist who responded to the UK design school movement which began in the 1830s. He proposed a new school of science and art, funding it generously. Now Gray’s is an important institution of higher education, taking a full place in the training of artists and designers.
The collection illustrated here dates mostly from the post-war period. It was amassed by the staff of Gray’s to demonstrate excellent work by students, or the use of a particular technique. In recent years, however, there has been a clearer attempt to collect consistently the best, most representative work by awarding Purchase Prizes at the annual degree shows. We have also been purchasing pieces by the alumni and staff of Gray’s in order to better reflect the aesthetic life of this art school community.