Friday, August 29, 2008

NGS and The National Gallery, London, Join to Secure Future of Old Master Collection

NGS and The National Gallery, London, Join to Secure Future of Old Master Collection

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Diana and Actaeon, 1556-59, Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), National Gallery of Scotland. Lent by the Duke of Sutherland 1945.

LONDON.- The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the National Gallery in London (NGL) are working together with the Duke of Sutherland to secure the long-term future of the Bridgewater loan of Old Master paintings.

The Bridgewater Collection, currently on view at the NGS, is the most important private collection of Old Master paintings on loan to an institution in the UK and counts among the most important art collections anywhere in the world. The loan includes masterpieces by artists such as Raphael (3), Titian (4), Rembrandt (1) and Poussin (8). The pictures have been on continuous public view in the National Gallery of Scotland since the collection was placed there in 1945 by the then 5th Earl of Ellesmere, later 6th Duke of Sutherland. It forms the core of the National Gallery of Scotland’s world-famous displays of European art.

Over the years, the Bridgewater Collection has grown in value to the point where the Duke of Sutherland has decided that it would be prudent to review the holding in relation to the family’s overall assets, and he has therefore decided to offer a small number of selected pictures for sale to the nation, reflecting his strong preference that the entire collection should remain on public view in the UK. The Duke has offered the opportunity for the Galleries to acquire two masterpieces on extremely generous terms; Diana & Actaeon and Diana & Callisto, both by Titian.

Titian’s Diana & Actaeon is on offer at a net price of £50m. The NGS and NGL will be seeking funds to acquire this work which would then be available for display on a rotating basis in London and Edinburgh. Assuming the funds can be raised to enable this purchase to proceed, the two Galleries will also be grantedan option to acquire the second picture, Diana & Callisto in four year’s time for a similar amount. If the effort to acquire these works is successful then the remainder of the Bridgewater Collection will remain on long-term loan at the NGS.

The two Titians are arguably the finest works in the Bridgewater Collection. They were both painted as part of a cycle of works for Philip II of Spain and they represent a highpoint in Italian Renaissance art.

This is the first-ever collaboration of its kind between the London and Edinburgh National Galleries.
The Bridgewater Loan originally numbered 32. The National Gallery of Scotland acquired four paintings from the Loan in 1984 and Titian’s Venus Anadyomene in 2003.

John Leighton, Director General, National Galleries of Scotland: “The Bridgewater Loan, so generously made by the Duke of Sutherland, is the most important Old Master paintings loan to any public museum in the world and is of supreme importance to Scotland and the rest of the UK. The present initiative is intended to secure the long-term future of the Loan for the public benefit. We are delighted to be working in close collaboration with the Duke and our colleagues in London in order to achieve this.”

Nicholas Penny, Director, The National Gallery, London: “For a century, the agitation to preserve great works of art in British Collections from export has been animated by anxiety that Titian’s great paintings Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto might be sold. Now the paintings have been offered on remarkably advantageous terms; their acquisition by both institutions would be an historic event.”

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