News Column

Van Dyck campaign raises £10m to keep self-portrait in Britain

May 2, 2014

Mark Brown (Guardian arts correspondent), theguardian.com



One of Britain's finest self-portraits, painted by Sir Anthony van Dyck in the last year of his life, has been saved for the nation after the Heritage Lottery Fund contributed 6,343,500 towards buying the work.

The award brings the Save Van Dyck campaign, led by the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund, to a successful conclusion.

It is the biggest chunk of a 10m fundraising campaign that also received more than 1.44m in total from 10,000 individuals, plus 1.35m from the NPG and the Art Fund and 1.2m from two private trusts.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the HLF, said: "This Van Dyck self-portrait is very special. It nearly left these shores forever and I'd like to congratulate the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund for their tenacity in running such a successful fundraising campaign over the past six months.

"It's a superb painting marking the turning point in the history of portraiture, and as such I'm proud that the HLF has been able to dig deep and make an investment of 6.3m in order to help secure it for the nation."

Sandy Nairne, director of the NPG, said: "The Van Dyck self-portrait is a poignant portrait of great significance. We are hugely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and for all the public support for this entrancing work."

The portrait, painted in 1641, shows Van Dyck Flemish-born but very much an adopted Briton brimming with confidence. No other painter had such a dramatic impact on British portraiture, helping turn it away from the stiff formal approach of Tudor and Jacobean painting.

The self-portrait had been heading to Los Angeles, bought by the British businessman James Stunt, husband of Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Bernie.

Stunt has a fine collection of 17th-century British art and the intention was for it to join a collection of portraits, including ones by Sir Peter Lely, on the walls of a 123-room mansion known as Candyland.

After an export bar was placed on the painting and the public campaign was launched, Stunt pulled out and the seller reduced the price from 12.5m to 10m.

The portrait will now hang in the NPG until 31 August before it goes off for research and conservation work. Next year it will go on a three-year national tour, taking in Turner Contemporary, Margate; Manchester Art Gallery; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said it had been "one of the most successful appeals of the last 100 years". He added: "Art lovers and museumgoers around the country are the real heroes of the hour, helping to unlock the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and other major donors."

The arts minister, Ed Vaizey, said: "This is fantastic news. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and countless donations from individuals and groups, this wonderful picture a masterpiece by any standards will be enjoyed, free of charge, in the National Portrait Gallery for many generations to come."


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Source: Guardian Web


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