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After two years of fundraising, Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries have finally secured the £2.25 million (approx. $3.6 million) necessary to buy the personal archive of early photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. Although Daguerre is often credited with the invention of photography, Fox Talbot’s book “Pencil of Nature” was an early development for paper-based processes and the first photographically-illustrated book. The archive includes objects photographed in the book, documents relating to both his work and his personal life, and many other items. The Bodleian Libraries have several plans in the works for the archive including a 2017 exhibition, a catalogue raisonné of his work, and an online archive for scholarly research.

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A leading Oxford historian has warned that the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens would “ruin” major museums.

Sir John Boardman, emeritus Oxford professor of classical archaeology and art, said the move would set an “appalling precedent,” resulting in museums worldwide having to give up artifacts they had held for decades.

His intervention came after it emerged that the Greek government has enlisted the help of two prominent human rights barristers to provide advice on securing the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

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England’s Ashmolean Museum has acquired one of the most important Pre-Raphaelite paintings remaining in private hands. John Everett Millais’ (1829-1896) portrait of John Ruskin, the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, has been on loan to the institution since January 2012. The work was officially given to the museum by the Art Council England under the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance plan, which stipulates that under British tax law debts can be written off in exchange for objects of national significance. The painting recently appeared in Tate Britain’s highly successful exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde.

Millais, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, was commissioned to paint the portrait in 1853 by Ruskin himself. While working on the painting, Milliais fell in love with Ruskin’s wife, which ultimately led to the breakdown of the Ruskins’ marriage, Millais’ friendship with Ruskin, and the artist’s involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite movement. After marrying Ruskin’s wife, Effie, Millais gave the portrait to a friend in Oxford, Henry Wentworth Acland. The portrait remained in Acland’s family until his descendants sold it at Christie’s in 1965, where the late owner of the painting purchased it.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which formed in 1848, was a group of English painters, poets, and critics who rejected the traditional approaches to art and painting established by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael (1483-1520) and Michelangelo (1473-1564). Instead, the Pre-Raphaelites turned to medieval and early Renaissance art for inspiration often painting subjects from Shakespeare and the Bible. Pre-Raphaelitism, which rattled Britain from 1848 to 1900, was considered the country’s first avant-garde movement.

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In the teeth of the recession, the Ashmolean museum iin Oxford has succeeded in raising £7.83m in less than eight months, through lottery grants and more than a thousand donations from members of the public, to buy a major work by the 19th century French painter Edouard Manet which would otherwise have left the country.

The Portrait of Madame Claus, a study for one of his most famous paintings, Le Balcon, regarded as a key work in the development of Impressionist art, was sold last year for £28.5m, after being in a private collection in England since it was bought from the artist's studio in 1884. The comparative bargain price the museum paid represents the tax breaks for works of art going to national collections.

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A painting which has been hanging in a student hall of residence at Oxford since the 1930s could be a Michelangelo masterpiece worth £100million.

The mid-16th century work depicting the crucifixion of Jesus was believed to be by one of the Renaissance artist’s contemporaries, Marcello Venusti.

But Italian scholar Antonio Forcellino claims that infra-red technology revealed the 12-inch by 27-inch work to have been painted by Michelangelo himself. ‘No one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece,’ Mr Forcellino wrote in his book The Lost Michelangelos.

Only a handful of Michelangelo paintings exist which are confirmed as authentic, and all are in museums.

If the one discovered at Oxford’s Campion Hall is authenticated and put on the market, it could beat the £70million record price for a work of art sold at auction set by a Picasso last year.

Clare Dewey of Axa art insurance said: ‘To say Michelangelos don’t come on the market very often would be an understatement. A tiny drawing by the artist sells for millions, so that puts into context how much a painting would fetch if you could prove it is genuine.

‘It could easily be the most expensive painting ever sold. It could even break £100million if experts believe it is real.’

The painting, Crucifixion With The Madonna, St John and Two Mourning Angels, was bought by Campion Hall at Sotheby’s for an undisclosed sum in the 1930s.

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