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Dr. Thomas (Tom) J. Honeyman


1891 - 1971

Director of the Glasgow Art Gallery. Born in Glasgow, the son of an engine driver, Honeyman studied medicine at Glasgow prior to service in the trenches during the First World War. He practised medicine in the East End of Glasgow, before moving to London to become an art dealer. In London he met many great artists and when the Glasgow Corporation were looking for a new Director for their Kelvingrove Art Gallery they consulted Honeyman who eventually decided he might like the job. Taking up the post in 1939, he went on to make an enormous contribution to artistic and cultural life of Glasgow during his 15 years in the post. He greatly increased the profile of the Glasgow Art Galleries through clever publicity and successful exhibitions which, for example, brought queues to see Van Gogh's paintings.

His art purchases were prudent and wise, buying works which have subsequently gained enormously in value. In 1952, Honeyman became famous for his purchase of Salvador Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross. A controversial purchase at the time, both because of its exceptional cost (£8200) and contemporary style, it hung for many years in the Kelvingrove before being moved to its present location in St. Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art in 1993. Now regarded as priceless, it is one of the jewels of the city's art collection and has also proven commercially successful, with shows and reproduction fees covering the original cost several times over.

Honeyman's reputation was such that he was able to attract several major gifts to the gallery, including that of Sir William Burrell (1861 - 1958) in 1944. Yet, Honeyman was forced to leave his post in 1954 having lost the support of his political master, the new chairman of the Glasgow Corporation Art Committee.

Passionate about the cultural life of Glasgow, Honeyman, with assistance from John Brodie, also founded the Glasgow Citizen's Theatre. He was also involved in setting up the Scottish Tourist Board.


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