Primavera is a fine arts and crafts gallery of historical significance at 10 King's Parade in Cambridge, England. Henry Rothschild of the Rothschild family founded Primavera in 1945 in Sloane Street, London, in order to promote and retail contemporary British art and craft. In 1959, Rothschild opened Primavera in Cambridge by taking over the shop on King's Parade that had formerly been run by the Society of Designer Craftsmen. Notable potters such as Lucie Rie and Bernard Leach came to Primavera to sell their work. In 1999, its current owner, Jeremy Waller, purchased Primavera and continues the work of Rothschild and the Society of Designer Craftsmen. The gallery now has three floors of work on show featuring over seven hundred artists.
Henry Rothschild (b. 1913) first became interested in the crafts when he encountered them in Italy in 1944 while on Army service. On his return to England, he researched British crafts and decided to found Primavera in Sloane Street, to showcase the best British handcrafted and decorative arts. Primavera’s blend of retail outlet and art gallery caught the imagination of both the public and the fashionable magazines of the day, with stoneware by the Winchcombe and Crowan potteries, tin-glaze from the Cole brothers' Rye Pottery, tableware by Lucie Rie, textiles, furniture and basketwork being exhibited and sold. From 1953, Primavera developed an exhibition programme showing diverse crafts including continental ceramics, toys, sculpture and folk art. The reputation of the gallery enabled Rothschild to promote arts education in schools and to support museums and local authorities in putting together art and craft collections. Following the establishment of Primavera in Cambridge, Marion Goodwin and Valerie Webb were appointed as managers and focused on sourcing local crafts. In 1965, the Viewpoint 1965 exhibition held at the gallery featured East Anglian artists and makers such as Geoffrey Clarke (sculpture and stained glass), Mary Potter (paintings), and Dan Arbeid (ceramics). From 1971 to 1983 Rothschild staged a series of important Primavera exhibitions in Cambridge. These centered on ceramics in particular, and were initially held in the gallery of the Kettle’s Yard Museum. In 1995 a special exhibition was held at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, entitled, “Primavera: Pioneering Craft and Design.” This recognized Primavera’s unique contributions to craft and design in postwar Britain. Rothschild became the first Secretary of the British section of UNESCO’s World Crafts Council in Geneva. In 1999, the award of an honorary Master of Arts degree by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, recognised Rothschild’s contribution to the crafts. In 1999, the current owner, Jeremy Waller, purchased the gallery. Under his ownership, Primavera has expanded and now contains arts and crafts by over 700 artists spread over three floors, including contemporary jewellery, ceramics, furniture, glass, metal, paintings, sculpture, textiles and antiques. The gallery continues to exhibit artists such as Dame Lucie Rie, Bernard Leach, Hans Coper and Alan Caiger-Smith through its permanent displays. These exhibition pieces are shown alongside temporary exhibitions and pieces for sale by new artists. Waller actively promotes new artists by purchasing outright most of the jewellery and art on display. This enables pricing in the gallery to be kept to artist’s prices. He has introduced numerous new artists to the gallery, including jewellers Diana Porter and Gill Galloway-Whitehead. Primavera houses an extensive collection of contemporary British handmade jewellery, including many pieces by Malcolm Betts. In 2001 Waller revived the connection between the Fitzwilliam Museum and Primavera by staging a joint exhibition entitled “Ceramics and Glass”. New works by Alan Caiger-Smith and Peter Layton were shown. Primavera has received commissions from Cambridge University to design and craft pieces for colleges, including a pair of wooden candlesticks for St Catharine's College turned by Guy Ravine in 2008. Waller is dedicated to presenting the best of British art and jewellery within an historic and ancient environment opposite King’s College. He focuses on contrasting different genres and personally changes the positions of exhibited pieces every day as he aims to create a living painting and mosaic out of the gallery itself. Primavera should represent more than one vision of what someone's home should look like. No one has just one pot or one picture just by itself unless you are very rich. Pictures are placed near clocks, clocks near objects and objects near chairs and fabrics. This is what Primavera is all about. What is important is to show and know about the actual person behind the artwork, and so emphasise the very human aspect of the work on display as against mass-produced ware.
In 1945 Henry Rothschild opens Primavera at 149 Sloane Street, London; Between 1945 and 1950, Primavera exhibits British crafts including pottery, tableware, basket ware, textiles, toys and furniture; Between 1950 and 1959, Primavera becomes an artistic centre for fine textiles. Sells glass; In 1953, Primavera develops an exhibition programme; In 1959, Rothschild opens Primavera at 10 King’s Parade, Cambridge; In 1963, Primavera holds a folk art exhibition including artwork from Peru, Mexico, Crete, Italy, India, Russia and Africa; In 1967, London branch moves to 17 Walton Street; In 1970, London branch closes; In 1980, Primavera in Cambridge is sold to Ronald Pile. Continues to operate as a gallery; During the 1980s, there are selling exhibitions staged by Primavera at Kettle's Yard Art Gallery, Cambridge; In 1985, the Fitzwilliam Museum holds exhibition of European Ceramics and Wall Textures organized by Henry Rothschild; In 1987, Fitzwilliam Museum holds Clear through to the Wood exhibition organized by Henry Rothschild; In 1995, Primavera holds exhibition with the Fitzwilliam Museum tracing the history of Primavera’s promotion of design and craftsmanship; In 1999, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, recognises Rothschild’s contribution to the crafts by awarding an honorary Master of Arts degree; In 1999, Jeremy Waller purchases Primavera and continues the exhibition programme at 10 and later also 11 King’s Parade; In 1999, Primavera holds an exhibition of Jane Ray illustrations of the book Mythical Birds & Beasts; In 2000, several exhibitions are held at Primavera. Camilla Meddings furniture, Phyllis Dupuy ceramics, Malcolm Betts jewellery, The Suffolk Craft Society, Ruloef Uys ceramics, Ursula, Zoe and Sula Rubens, Nicola Henley tapestries, Julia Linstead engraved glass, Jane Ray illustrations of the book of Hansel and Gretal, Bente Odner weavings and tapestries and Rachel Higgins metal automata and sculptures.In 2001, Primavera and the Fitzwilliam Museum mount a joint exhibition of ceramic and glass work by Alan Caiger-Smith and Peter Layton; In 2001, Primavera stages several temporary exhibitions including Mary Rich ceramics, Zara Devereux paintings, Claudia Clare ceramics, Jeremy James animal ceramics, Fiona Millais paintings, Leo McDowell paintings and Bill Selby paintings; In 2002, exhibitions are held at Primavera of Suleyman Saba ceramics, Jane Poulton paintings, Chris Keenan ceramics, Jane Ray illustrations of the books Song of the Earth, Love and Friendship, and Sun Moon and Stars, Philip Wood ceramics and Jeff Soan wooden animal sculptures; In 2003, there are exhibitions of Antonia Salmon ceramics, Nick Mackman animal ceramic sculptures and Anna Noel ceramics; In 2004, exhibitions are held to show Rupert Spira ceramics, Paul Jackson ceramics and Michael Brennand-Wood: flowers, fabric, glass and mosaic creations; In 2004, Primavera is a major sponsor of The Cambridge Summer Music Festival; In 2005, exhibitions of Ruloef Uys ceramics, Roger Barnes jewellery and Jane Ray illustrations of the books of The Bold Boy, and Arion and the Dolphin are staged; In 2006, Primavera holds exhibitions of Guy Royle jewellery and East Anglian Potters; In 2007, an exhibition shows Jane Ray illustrations of books of Celtic Myths & Legends, Myths of The Near East, and Far Away. Exhibitions of ceramics by Paul Jackson celebrating 25 years at Primavera and Les Blakebrough ceramics are held; In 2008, various exhibitions are held to celebrate British Silver Week and show Neil Tregear ceramics, Helen Baron ceramics and Nick Juett paintings (text from Wikipedia).
- Greg, Andrew. Primavera: Pioneering Craft and Design 1945–1995, Newcastle upon Tyne: Tyne and Wear Museums, 1995.
- Hobday, Alan, and Loxston, Rob, The Fitzwilliam and Primavera: Ceramics and Glass, Somerset: Field Print and Graphics Ltd, 2001.