The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation

The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation was created by Sir Denis in his lifetime. It aims to continue Sir Denis’s philanthropic work, his art historical research and his passionate promotion of young scholars. It promotes his art collection and lifelong work and studies to the general public, organises exhibitions, supports museums, and also endows two annual prizes for young scholars and artists.

The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation is presently supporting The Foundling Museum in London, co-sponsoring  the research and restoration project of  their painting ‘A Piping Shepherd Boy’. This year the Foundation has also co-sponsored a documentary, in association with the Pinacoteca di Cento and other promoters, about the rediscovery of “The Assunta” masterpiece by Guercino produced by DocArt for Sky Arte Italy.

The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation has undertaken a number of other activities over recent years including a donation to the Pinacoteca di Cento, following the earthquake in 2011, and sponsorship of a Guercino Lecture organised in 2017 for the restoration of the fresco ceiling painted by Guercino at Piacenza Cathedral. The Trust funded the publication of a revised edition of Salerno’s Monograph on the Paintings of Guercino by Nicholas Turner; sponsored a Baroque Masterpieces exhibition in the Diocese of Novara; made donations to the Art Fund for the London University Student Art Pass, for the purchase of the Van Dyck self-portrait and for a catalogue of Baroque and late Baroque Art by the University of Oxford; and for the recent purchase of a major painting for the National Gallery.

We also work with museums and galleries, and promote cultural events and exhibitions.

Our present exhibition Visions and Visionaries, in collaboration with Flat Time House, the Bologna-based Association Age of Future and Richard Saltoun Gallery is on display at Guildhall Art Gallery until 30 April 2019. The exhibition creates a narrative of the Visionary movement from the artists who laid the foundations of the genre, to the avant-garde generation and contemporary artists that drew from these works and were inspired to find new forms in their art.

Last year, together with Museum of the Order of St John, and in collaboration with Flat Time House, we organised the exhibition Techno Medioevo Age of Future Reloaded and a Study Day “The Language and meaning of Time in Art and Science”, in association with the Bologna-based group Age of Future.
and young academics from the Universities of Bologna, Imperial College and Cambridge.

Our exhibition Bice Visconti: Drawings and Sketchbooks from the Great War, was first shown at 48 Millbank in 2017, and subsequently at the National Gallery of Ireland until 3 February 2019. The funding and placement of Sir Denis’s Archive and Library at the National Gallery of Ireland remains a major ongoing project for The Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust.

The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation also endows two annual prizes for young scholars and artists, the Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize, and The Mahon Award, a drawing prize at The Royal Drawing School.

The Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize

The Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize is an annual prize for young scholars to write on the periods of art that Sir Denis studied or on subjects that he was interested in, with a presentational lecture of the winning essay at a renowned public institution. The Prize comprises an award of £2,000 for an essay of distinction which reflects Sir Denis’ interest in the period of art from the Seicento (17th century) and in particular the work of Guercino, Carracci, Caravaggio and Nicolas Poussin, or his other art historical interests including the 15th and 16th centuries and also certain key modern and contemporary artists. The winning essay is presented at a renowned British or European institution, which so far have included the Ashmolean Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Courtauld Institute, the Pinacoteca di Cento, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Museum of the Order of St John and the British Museum.

The Sir Denis Mahon Award

This prestigious award was created to honour the memory of Sir Denis Mahon and his lifelong passion for painting and drawing. During his lifetime he was a great supporter of the Royal Drawing School (formerly The Prince’s Drawing School) and this annual award was created to give a recent graduate of The Drawing year the opportunity to continue to focus on drawing from observation and to develop their work. A prize of £10,000 is awarded to an outgoing Drawing Year student each year to enable them to continue their practice as an artist, it runs from March to March and the award goes towards a studio space for the duration of the year as well as a solo exhibition.

The Trustees

The Trustees of The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation are presently:

Orietta Benocci Adam

Orietta Benocci Adam, a trustee of The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation, acts as the artistic director, project manager, and art exhibition organiser for the Foundation. She is also a director of British Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland.

She has promoted a range of exhibitions and artistic projects, coordinates scholars and artists, curates art catalogues and collaborates with museums, art collectors and private galleries. Orietta worked for many years as an investment banker in the City of London, covering marketing roles for several financial institutions, including Mitsubishi Bank (now Mitsubishi UFJ); Credit Suisse First Boston and Bankgesellschaft Berlin.

Alan Bryant

Alan Bryant is a trustee of The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation and was until the end of 2018 a Senior Associate of Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. He retired from the Firm in December 2018. He specialises in trust administration, both private and charitable, as well as probate and personal tax. Alan has vast experience of dealing with trust and probate accounts, charitable trust accounts and other Charity Commission compliance procedures. He has advised banks and trust companies on trust and probate issues.

Suzanne Marriott

Suzanne Marriott is a partner of Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and a trustee of The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation. She specialises in cross border and UK tax planning, wills, trusts, contentious trusts and probates, Inheritance Act claims, estate and succession planning, international wills and trusts, and Art law. Suzanne is also a Notary Public practising in the City of London.

Suzanne has a strong interest in art, and acts as a trustee for other charitable trusts, including The Willie And Mabel Morris Charitable Trust, The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund, The Rix-Thompson-Rothenberg Foundation, Gainsborough Houseand the British Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland.

c/o Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, 5 Fleet Place, London EC4M 7RD


Past Trustees have included Christopher Brown, former director of The Ashmolean Museum and Sir Hugh Leggatt (1925-2014) a notable scholar, art dealer and philanthropist.

Present scholars and advisors of the Sir Denis Mahon Foundation

Gareth Bell Jones

He is Director/Curator of Flat Time House, a gallery and archive in the former home of the great post-war conceptual artist John Latham(1921-2006). He is an associate lecturer and assessor for MA Curating and Collections at Chelsea School of Art . He is the editor of NO IT journal and he is well-known for his avant-garde reviews and contributions.

Prof David Ekserdjian

Prof Ekserdjian is The Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust Official Delegate of the Centro di Studi Internazionale, il Guercino – Cento, Italy. He is Professor of History of Art and Film, University of Leicester and a former trustee of the National Gallery in London.

He is a world-renowned authority on Italian Renaissance paintings and drawings, with particular specialities in the artists Correggio and Parmigianino. He is also an expert on the history of collecting and an adviser to international museums and galleries such as the National Gallery and Tate Britain, as well as private collectors.

Francesco Gonzales

Prof Gonzales is a member of the Ufficio Beni Culturali Ecclesiastici della Diocesi di Novara. He was responsible for the reorganisation of the Pinacoteca dell’Accademia Albertina in Turin, the Collection Real Collegio Carlo Alberto di Moncalieri in Turin, and the Archivio Fotografico della Soprintendenza del Piemonte, as well as curating many important exhibitions. A well-known scholar, he has collaborated with The Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust since its inception.

Prof Marcello Pecchioli

He is a Professor of Philosophy of Science and History of New Media at the Academy of Brera in Milan and at the Academy of Arts in Naples. He collaborates with the University of Bologna, where he has a Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art History. He is a cinematographic and multimedia critic, a writer, a film-maker and the leader of Age of Future, a group of conceptual artists.

Dr John T Spike

He is an American art historian, curator, and author, specializing in the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods. He is also a prominent contemporary art critic and past director of the Florence Biennale. Dr Spike was Deputy Director, Muscarelle Museum of Art, The College of William and Mary, USA.


The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation is and advocate and champion of young scholars. The following scholars, who collaborate with the Foundation, were past recipients or candidates of The Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize,

Luke Farey is presently research coordinator for Piano Nobile, a gallery specialising in modern British art. He studied Art History at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Magnus Rena is a studying Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He is the 2018 Winner of The Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize,

Saskia Rubin, the 2017 Winner of The Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize,  is a PhD candidate studying Art History at The Courtauld Institute of Art. She has recently completed a Michael Bromberg Fellowship in the Prints and Drawings department at the British Museum.