The story of York Fine Arts begins in the historic market town of Beverley, North Yorkshire. In 1969, Alan and Julia Short opened the doors of their first gallery, located on Norwood in Beverley. The gallery began by offering a collection of original oil paintings by British and European artists, alongside a selection of limited and open edition prints. Before long, framing was added to the gallery’s repertoire, further expanding the services of the gallery.
By 1982, the gallery had achieved tremendous success and outgrown two consecutive shop spaces. Always looking to the future, the gallery began searching for a new home to facilitate its rapid growth. The search brought the Short family to Bar House (Illustrated here by Phyllis Hoggard) the residence within Beverley Bar, the 15th century gate to the town. Once serving as the temporary headquarters of Charles I during the English Civil War, as well as the previous home of the renowned artists Frederick William Elwell RA and his wife Mary Dawson Elwell, Bar House provided a regal and artistic atmosphere in which the gallery could grow.
Over the years, the North’s desire for quality original paintings had grown from an interest to an eager demand. Artists too began to view the North as a strong market for their work. And so in the splendour of Bar House, the gallery once again expanded its offer and opened its first exhibition of original oil paintings. The exhibition’s success firmly shifted the gallery’s focus to original artwork, laying the foundation for a regular schedule of exhibitions that featured work from local, British and international artists.
The achievements at Bar House led the Short family to expand the gallery to multiple branches across Yorkshire, including its first gallery in York in 1984. The York branch, in a similar fashion to those first galleries in Beverley, quickly advanced and began to outgrow space after space. By 2001 it was clear that York had taken priority as headquarters, so it was decided to consolidate all of the branches into one single gallery. The new gallery would offer the comprehensive artworks and services of all of the gallery’s former branches—original paintings, watercolours, sculpture, framing and limited and open edition prints—all under one roof.
In July of 2001, York Fine Arts found its permanent home at No. 83 Low Petergate, where its three spacious floors continue to foster some of the country’s finest artwork. Joined by its Harrogate branch in May 2017, York Fine Arts continues to look forward and provide visitors the warm, familial welcome that has become our hallmark.
Throughout our forty-five year history, the gallery has grown and evolved; but it has never wavered from its founding vision to bring quality fine art to the North. Today, we reach higher, providing the very best of British and international art to the North of England, as well as to the rest of the UK and further afield.