Towards the end of her life, Ruth realised that her collection would be of interest to the world at large. Shortly before she died, her son Richard arranged for Dr Robert Travers (Piano Nobile Gallery, London) to visit Ruth in her house in Hampstead and see the self portraits. He was impressed by the range and quality of the works and suggested that a book should be written to create a formal record of the collection since it contained works by many leading British artists. Ruth’s legacy was confirmed by Philip Vann’s book Face to Face, which examines 20th century British self-portraits and catalogues her collection.
In 1965, the artist Patrick Hayman wrote to Ruth from his home/studio in south-west London:
‘I would be delighted to let you have a self-portrait for 20 guineas… I think your idea is a charming one & that a collection of contemporary self portraits will be extremely valuable. (A book on the subject, of British ones, w’d be invaluable). I think it is extremely original and brave of you to undertake such a thing. And originality is rare these days.’
Such a book with the Ruth Borchard Collection at its core, did not in fact appear until 2004: Face to Face: British Self-Portraits in the Twentieth Century by Philip Vann (published by Sansom & Co., Bristol). In this book, focusing largely on the Ruth Borchard Collection, Philip Vann confronts one of the most revealing of all artistic genres in the process of discussing and illustrating work by over 200 British artists.
Since Face to Face was published in 2004, artists such as Nathaniel Davies have been reassessed and Davies’ work has been brought to public and critical attention, with a successful retrospective exhibition in London.
The first edition of the publication sold out and the launch of a very exciting second edition lies ahead.Next