A series of paintings including works showing the first gay kiss and drag ball in British theatre have been acquired by Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.
The five paintings by artist Leonard Rosoman are part of a series called A Patriot for Me, based on John Osborne’s play of the same name which premiered at London’s Royal Court in 1965.
This helped pave the way for the 1968 Theatres Act to abolish the censorship of theatre.
Initially banned by the Lord Chamberlain’s office for its homosexual content, a legal loophole was exploited to turn the Royal Court into a private club for the play’s duration.
Rosoman attended the first performance of the play, and returned every evening for a fortnight to create drawings, which later formed the basis for the series of 40 paintings.
The works from A Patriot for Me depict notable actors from the period, including the Royal Court’s director George Devine, Jill Bennett and Maximilian Schell.
The paintings were acquired from the artist’s widow, concert pianist Roxanne Wruble Rosoman, in lieu of £96,600 of inheritance tax.
Pallant House Gallery director Simon Martin said: “We are thrilled to acquire Leonard Rosoman’s A Patriot for Me paintings.
"Not only are they among his finest works, but they have a particular significance to LGBTQ history, to the history of British theatre and visual art, representing a time when Britain’s social and cultural history was on the cusp of a pivotal shift."