Tributes are paid to Lady Sainsbury who bestowed on Norfolk a world class legacy of art
12:30 11 February 2014
Tributes are being paid to Lady Sainsbury who along with her late husband Sir Robert bestowed on Norfolk a world class legacy of art.
Lady Sainsbury died on February 6 aged 101.
The couple donated their vast art collection, acquired over more than 60 years, to the University of East Anglia and which is housed in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts that was designed by Lord Foster.
The couple were also key to the establishment of the Norwich-based Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.
Lady Sainsbury was awarded an honorary degree by the University of East Anglia in 1990 and an honorary fellowship in 2003 in recognition of her remarkable contribution to the university and the region’s cultural life.
In December 2003 the Japanese Ambassador bestowed on Lady Sainsbury, on behalf of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon in recognition of her lifelong contribution to the promotion of Japanese culture in the United Kingdom.
In 1998 Lady Sainsbury and Sir Robert sold their first joint art purchase (the Portrait of Baranowski by Modigliani acquired in 1937) to establish and endow the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.
A statement on the Sainsbury Insitute website written by the organisation’s executive director Mami Mizutori and research director Nicole Rousmaniere said: “The Sainsbury Institute is saddened to announce the death of its benefactor Lady Lisa Sainsbury...It was her vision, and that of her husband Sir Robert, who died in 2000, that led to the establishment of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in 1999.
“Sir Robert and Lisa Sainsbury were among the greatest collectors of art and most prominent benefactors of the arts in the United Kingdom in modern times. Their collecting partnership spanned more than sixty years. Their stunning art collection was donated to the University of East Anglia, Norwich in 1973 where it is housed in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA), designed by Norman (now Lord) Foster.”
The statement continued: “The Institute’s library was named after Lisa Sainsbury in recognition of her enthusiasm for the project. It was her favourite space in the building and she was a major donor to its collections. She looked forward to seeing the latest acquisitions and was delighted by the decisions of many institutions and scholars from across the world to donate major collections on Japanese art, archaeology, history and cultures to the library. The resources in the Lisa Sainsbury Library in Norwich is considered to be one of the major research collections of its kind in Europe and it stands as a fitting tribute to the vision of Lady Sainsbury.”
Professor Steven Hooper, director of the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, has also paid tribute to Lady Sainsbury on the SRU website.
He said: “It is with sadness that we have heard of the death of Lisa, Lady Sainsbury, who passed away peacefully on Thursday 6 February 2014, aged 101. Together with her husband Sir Robert Sainsbury, she originated in 1984 the idea to establish alongside their collection in the Sainsbury Centre a department specialising in the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. This became the SRU, and all SRU staff, students and alumni are deeply indebted to Lisa for her vision and generosity. Few things gave her more pleasure than seeing young people enjoy art and develop careers in the art world.”