LSA has elected distinguished and notable people as Presidents of the Society - scroll down for a complete list from 1885 to the present day
LSA President Lars Tharp, holding a Picasso ceramic from the Attenborough collection
LSA President 2015 to 2021
Lars is a passionate ambassador for art in all its forms and has served on the jury of the annual Art Fund Prize (2009 and 2010), the UK’s most prestigious Museums and Galleries award.
Born in Copenhagen, Lars was educated in Leicester and Cambridge. He lectures and guides throughout the world on subjects ranging from Ceramic History to the world of William Hogarth. His Global Arts Communications business advises on the acquisition, care and disposal of artworks, notably including the successful private sale of China’s hitherto most expensive vase. As curator he has devised and overseen exhibitions in UK museums including in his own Foundling Museum (London) where, until 2010, he was Director.
Lars is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and he sits on the Court of London’s oldest Guild, the Worshipful Company of Weavers. His many TV and radio credits include the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow (1986 to present) and his documentary Treasures of Chinese Porcelain continues to be screened throughout the world.
Dip Arch FRIBA, FLI, FRSA
LSA President 1987-2014
Architect, Artist and author of eight books on architecture, design, paintings and sketches. He held an unprecedented term of office as President of the Leicester Society of Artists for 27 years. He founded and directed Douglas Smith Stimson Partnership Limited (DSSP) that was based in Leicester, a multi disciplinary practice of architects, landscape architects and interior designers.
Douglas now concentrates on painting and sketching. His watercolours are in collections of Europe, America and Canada. His original 34 watercolours and 30 drawings, produced for his book 'Iconic Modern Architecture' have become part of the RIBA Drawing Collection held by the Victoria & Albert Museum London.
LSA President 1982 – 1986
Eminent portrait painter, recent work includes the portrait of Sir David Attenborough, his portfolio includes prime ministers, royal family, well known people such as Mary Quant, Elton John, Martin Johnson and many public and private commissions
Bryan Organ is the Patron of Leicester Society of Artists
LSA President 1977 – 1981
Guy Holford Dixon was a Deputy Circuit Judge 1975-77. As a prominent barrister, he lent his support to the first major exhibition in Britain of German Impressionism and Expressionism, the 1944 ‘Exhibition of Mid-European Art’, which had daringly chosen to show a selection of 62 works, mainly German artists including Nolde, Marc, Kandinsky, Feininger and Heckel. A collector of art, Guy Dixon later bequeathed his important collection of seven Russian icons to the British Museum in 1994.
LSA President 1971 – 1976
Denis Rice became Warden of Vaughan College from 1962, Leicester University Adult Education Department, and held this post for the next 22 years
LSA President 1969 – 1970
Jack Simmons OBE (30 August 1915 – 3 September 2000) was an English transport historian and emeritus professor of history at University of Leicester, known as a specialist in railway history
LSA President 1967 – 1968
Konrad Smigielski, one of the most prominent of Britain’s post war planners, was Leicester’s chief planner in the 1960s and his legacy continues to divide opinion.
LSA President 1965 – 1966
LSA President 1963 – 1964
Many works in Leicester University’s collection were purchased by Leicestershire Education Authority under the auspices of Stewart C Mason, the county’s Director of Education from 1947-71. He was a progressive educator with a keen interest in contemporary art, and would buy or commission works to accompany new building projects. Under the pioneering 'Leicestershire Experiment and Plan' which was devised in 1957 by Stewart Mason, there was a move away from self-contained classes to mixing across groups, encouraging use of the entire school by all the children.
LSA President 1958 – 1962
Guy Dixon was also LSA President from 1977-81 - see information above
LSA President 1956 – 1957
Sir Charles Robert Keene (1891 - 1977) was Mayor of Leicester in 1953-54 and Chairman of College Governors at Leicester College of Art for 30 years between 1927 - 1957. As a councillor his main interests were education, culture and town planning. He became the first Chair of Leicester Polytechnic, now De Montfort University. This long service was recognised in 1961 when Charles Keene College was named in his honour. An annual event, the Sir Charles Keene Lecture, was founded at the Polytechnic in 1974. Keene was made CBE in 1950 and knighted in the birthday honours list of June 1969.
LSA President 1953 – 1955
LSA President 1951 – 1952
Colin DB Ellis was the author of 'History in Leicester 55BC - AD1900', published in 1948 by the City of Leicester Publication Department and illustrated by LSA Member Hugh Collinson.
LSA President 1949 – 1950
Alderman William Henry Smith was Lord Mayor of Leicester in 1946-1947.
H Percy Gee
LSA President 1945 – 1948
H Percy Gee (1864 - 1962) was Director of the family shoe business of Stead and Simpson Ltd and a very generous benefactor of local causes. He was one of the founder members of the Leicester University College, financing the College personally through financial crises of the 1930s and when the College received its Royal Charter Gee became the first Pro-Chancellor and he was one of the first Honorary Graduates of the University of Leicester in 1958. Other public service included chairing the Leicester Savings Committee, the Leicester Chamber of Commerce and the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, service as a Justice of the Peace and a Lay Canon of Leicester Cathedral.
LSA President 1944 – 1945
Arthur Harry Swain (1859 - 1952) was Lord Mayor of Leicester in 1936-37.
LSA President 1942 – 1944
LSA President 1940 – 1942
Harry Morley (5 April 1881 - 18 September 1943) was a painter, etcher and engraver, known for his classical and mythological compositions. He studied at Leicester School of Art, then later architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, winning a travelling scholarship to Italy. His experiences in Italy encouraged him to become a painter, and he attended the Académie Julian in Paris. He was appointed an official war artist in 1940 and taught for a time at St Martin’s School of Art, London. His earlier works were inspired by his travels in Italy and were influenced by the engraver, Robert Austin. He was elected a Member of the Royal Watercolour Society (in 1927), a Member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers (1929), an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts (1936), a Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (1936), and a Master of the Art Workers’ Guild (1936).
LSA President 1934 – 1940
Captain John Henry Montagu Manners, 9th Duke of Rutland, (21 Aug 1886 - 22 Apr 1940) Marquess of Granby from 1906 to 1925, was an English peer and medieval art expert. In 1927, he realized his boyhood dream by establishing residence at the historic Haddon Hall, which he painstakingly restored. His collection of English medieval floor- tiles, described by art historian Tancred Borenius as 'without a rival in the world' was catalogued by the Duke of Rutland in a monumental typewritten work of two folio volumes, and illustrated with coloured reproductions, all his own work.
LSA President 1931 – 1934
LSA President 1926 – 1930
George Fiddes Watt, Sir Jonathan North (1855–1939), oil on canvas, University of Leicester
LSA President 1920 – 1925
Sir Jonathan North (1855-1939), was one of Leicester's most influential citizens, and a pivotal figure in the founding of Leicester University. Starting in the boot and shoe manufacturing business, he was hand-picked to be the successor to Sir Edward Wood of Freeman, Hardy & Willis. He was on the Leicester Board of Guardians, Belgrave School Board, and becoming a councillor and alderman. Though resisting for years, he accepted the role of Mayor of Leicester throughout the First World War years, and was knighted in 1919 in recognition of his great service. He also founded the North Memorial Homes for veterans and their dependants, in Oadby, just one of the schemes he led after the war. For 32 years he was Chairman of the Leicester Education Committee, and University's first College Council Chairman for 20 years.
LSA President 1913 – 1919
Sydney Ansell Gimson (1860-1938) was a Director at the family firm of Gimson & Co. and President of the Leicester Secular Society, which promoted free thought with no prejudice on all subjects. As a Liberal Town Councillor, he was also Chairman of the Museum and Art Gallery Committee, which was responsible for acquiring the buildings that are now Newarke Houses Museum. Sydney Gimson believed that all children, however disadvantaged, should have the opportunity for education. He served on the Municipal Technical and Art Schools Committee and the Colleges of Art and Technology Committee. In 1898 Sydney instructed his architect brother, Ernest Gimson, to design and build Stoneywell Cottage as a rural haven where the family spent idyllic summers and Christmases. Built in rough-hewn, rustic 'Stoneywell Cottage' in the Arts and Crafts style and furnished with practical and simple wooden pieces, many carved with emblems from nature, the cottage is now owned by the National Trust.
LSA President 1911 – 1912
George Chitham was Lord Mayor of Leicester in 1909-1910
LSA President 1909 – 1910
Alfred Henry Paget
LSA President 1907 – 1908
Alfred Henry Paget, architect, was from a leading Liberal Leicester family. In 1870 A.H. Paget was elected an ARIBA. As a junior partner in the firm of Goddard & Paget, he was actively involved in many of its major projects, and apparently superintended the building of the Granby Street Leicestershire Bank in 1874 (now HSBC) from start to finish. Paget was a Councillor for Leicester’s East St Mary’s Ward, served on the Council’s Museum Committee, was a magistrate, and a long-serving Treasurer of the Lit and Phil and its President in 1887-88. He was a founder member and Secretary of the Leicester Kyrle Society (est. 1881) whose aims were to ‘bring the influence of natural and artistic beauty within the reach of the poor’ by means of internal decoration, paintings, flowers, gardens, open spaces for recreation, concerts and entertainment.
LSA President 1891 – 1906
Edwin Clephan JP was one of the founders of the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology. His daughter Jennie, a member of the National Union of Women Workers and the Leicester Ladies’ Reading Society, married the architect Alfred Paget, also an LSA President.
LSA President 1888 - 1890
First Headmaster of the School of Art, Leicester (now De Montfort University) 1870 - 1880 and Member of the Royal Watercolour Society.
Arthur Stockdale Cope, 'Sir Israel Hart' [sic] Mayor of Leicester, 1896, oil on canvas, Leicester Town Hall.
The Mayor of Leicester 1884-86
LSA President 1885
Israel Heart (16 February 1835 – 24 March 1911) served as a councillor for 25 years and was Mayor of Leicester from 1884-6 and 1893-94, during which time he was a member of the Committee for the School of Art. In 1885 he was appointed High Bailiff of the borough of Leicester. He presented a free library to the town and in 1878 a handsome ornamental fountain to be placed in the centre of the land fronting the Town Hall Building for the purpose of keeping open a public square for all time. He was also Chairman of Hart & Levy, wholesale merchants and garment manufacturers of Leicester.
Knighted in 1895, Sir Israel Heart was Liberal candidate for the Hackney Central division of London at the 1900 General Election. He did not stand for parliament again.
2015 – present: Lars Tharp, FSA
1987 – 2015 Douglas H Smith, Dip Arch FRIBA, FLI, FRSA
1982 – 1986 Bryan Organ
1977 – 1981 Guy Dixon JP
1971 – 1976 Denis Rice
1969 – 1970 Professor Jack Simmons
1967 – 1968 Konrad Smigielski
1965 – 1966 S J Pick
1963 – 1964 Stewart Mason
1958 – 1962 Guy Dixon JP
1956 – 1957 Alderman C R Keene CB JP
1953 – 1955 T G Hirst
1951 – 1952 Colin D B Ellis MC
1949 – 1950 Alderman W H Smith JP
1945 – 1948 H Percy Gee
1944 – 1945 A H Swain
1942 – 1944 Arnold Viccars
1940 – 1942 Harry Morley RA
1934 – 1940 The Duke of Rutland
1931 – 1934 Sir Arthur (Lord) Hazlerigg
1926 – 1930 George E Green
1920 – 1925 Sir Jonathan North
1913 – 1919 Sydney Gimson
1911 – 1912 George Chitham
1909 – 1910 A Corah
1907 – 1908 A H Paget
1891 – 1906 E Clephan
1888 - 1890 Wilmot Pilsbury, RWA
1885 Israel Heart