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Displaying items by tag: acceptance in lieu of inheritance

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 13:50

Ashmolean Acquires Rarely Seen Old Master Painting

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England has acquired ‘Venice: The Fondamenta Nuove with the Lagoon and the Island of San Michele’ by Venetian painter Francesco Guardi. The museum acquired the rarely seen work under the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance scheme, which allows inheritance tax debts to be written off in exchange for the acquisition of objects of national importance. The Guardi painting cleared a bill of nearly £2 million. A grant from the Art Fund and contributions in memory of Jo Wilson and the Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust helped make up the difference in value, allowing the Ashmolean to acquire the work.

Guardi, who was born into a family of Venetian painters, is best known for his views of the city, which were especially popular with British tourists visiting Italy. Created for a British Grand Tourist, ‘Venice: The Fondamenta Nuove with the Lagoon and the Island of San Michele’ is one of Guardi’s early lagoon views illustrating the northern shore of Venice, the island of San Michele, and distant snow-capped mountains, which are rarely visible from the mainland.

Professor Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean, said, “This painting brings to the Ashmolean a poetic masterpiece in which Francesco Guardi reveals his full artistic potential. As the first major Venetian view-painting to enter the Museum’s collection it makes an inspirational addition to the Britain and Italy Gallery. We are profoundly grateful to the Arts Council, the Art Fund, and other supporters for making this acquisition possible.”

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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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