National Football Museum acquires major new artwork

The National Football Museum has acquired a new painting to add to its collection of 20th century art.  Mid-week practice at Stamford Bridge by Lawrence Toynbee was purchased with help from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Art Fund and the Arts Council England / V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

The painting was originally submitted as part of the Football and the Fine Arts exhibition in 1953 where it won one of the main prizes, alongside L S Lowry’s Going to the Match.

Mid-week practice at Stamford Bridge is one of two paintings made at the same time by the artist. The other, Chelsea v Spurs at Stamford Bridge, was reportedly purchased at auction in 2012 by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Lawrence Toynbee’s work can be found in many museums and galleries across the country.  A keen sportsman, he drew upon his knowledge and affection for sport when painting his subjects.

Emma Hadley, Art Research Officer at the National Football Museum, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to acquire this lovely work of art which depicts footballers in training. Lowry’s Going to the Match is probably the most well-known of the paintings submitted at the 1953 Football and the Fine Arts exhibition and is often quoted as being the winner of the exhibition. However, Toynbee’s work was rated equally highly by the panel.”

“We’re extremely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Art Fund and the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund for their help in allowing us to purchase this significant artwork.”

Nathan Lee, Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund North West, said: “We’re delighted to see the National Football Museum purchase this important painting by Lawrence Toynbee for their collections. It is a fantastic example of how money raised by National Lottery players is being used to inspire people of all ages to learn about the significance and celebrate the art and imagery of the world’s favourite sport.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund, said: “This evocative view of Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge ground is a great addition to the National Football Museum’s collection. The artist Lawrence Toynbee drew upon his own experience as a sportsman to create his scenes from British sporting life, and I’m sure the painting will stir memories in the museum’s many fans and visitors.”

Julia Brettell, V&A National Programmes Manager, said: “Founded almost 140 years ago, the Arts Council England / V&A Purchase Grant Fund is one of the longest-running art funds in the UK. It represents the best of the V&A’s national activity: it helps museums across the country grow their collections, it shares expertise, and fosters new and strengthens existing relationships.”

“The Mid-week practice at Stamford Bridge by Lawrence Toynbee painting is a magnificent piece of work, with a fascinating story to tell as one of the most well-known paintings submitted to the 1953 Football and the Fine Arts exhibition. I am pleased it will go on public display at the National Football Museum where it can be enjoyed by fans of art and football for many years to come.”

Mid-week practice at Stamford Bridge will be on display as part of the National Football Museum’s Football Is Art exhibition, which opens on Friday 5 April 2019.


About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Football Museum’s purchase of Mid-week practice at Stamford Bridge by Lawrence Toynbee was made possible with the support of a £199,900 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund


Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 151,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by Tate St Ives in 2018) and a range of digital platforms.

Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at


About the Arts Council England/ V&A Purchase Grant Fund

  • The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
  • It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
  • The annual grants budget, currently £724,000, is provided by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding
  • Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 150 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.

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