Vogue editor Anna Wintour makes flying visit to Sudbury museum

Anna Wintour and Nicole Farhi at Gainsborough's House with the new bust of Gainsborough

Anna Wintour and Nicole Farhi at Gainsborough's House with the new bust of Gainsborough - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk museum with big expansion plans has played host to one of the most powerful women in the fashion world.

The editor-in-chief of American Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour, who was the inspiration behind the movie The Devil Wears Prada, spent the afternoon at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury.

She attended the unveiling of a bronze bust of the artist Thomas Gainsborough created by her friend, French fashion designer and sculptor Nicole Farhi.

The sculptor was also at the museum on Monday with her husband, playwright and film director David Hare, to see her work go on show at its new home.

Last year, Ms Wintour donated $10,000 (£6,500) to pay for the project. At the launch event, Mr Hare gave a speech about his wife and her work, describing the bust as “a tribute from one artist to another 300 years apart”.

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He spoke of how during a private dinner, the couple had told Ms Wintour of the plan to create the work of art for Gainsborough’s House. She later surprised them when they discovered she taken it upon herself to call the museum and offer to fund the project.

Ms Wintour is one of a number of celebrities who are endorsing multi-million pound plans to expand Gainsborough’s House. The museum’s trustees are due to hear at the end of this month whether an application for up to £5million of Heritage Lottery Funding has been successful.

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If they can secure the cash, they will turn the neighbouring former labour exchange building into a huge three-storey exhibition space with panoramic views of the landscape that inspired many of Gainsborough’s most famous paintings.

Other high profile names backing the case for funding include fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who produces a collection of jewellery named after Gainsborough.

Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, said he was “delighted” to be able to welcome such distinguished guests to the artist’s birthplace, adding that the fashion and textile worlds had a particular interest in Gainsborough.

“I think this is because Sudbury and Gainsborough’s family have strong connections to the silk weaving industry, which is still thriving in the town and producing fabric for some of the world’s top fashion houses.

“I also think that he managed to capture a strong element of fashion in his portraits.”

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