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The Ashmolean has acquired a painting by John Constable, RA (1776–1837) which has been accepted by the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. "Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (The Valley Farm)" was painted in c. 1816–18 and is the first finished work by Constable to enter the Ashmolean’s collection.

The picture shows one of the artist’s most personal subjects, which appeared in his work throughout his life from 1802 until it reached its final form in "The Valley Farm," exhibited in 1835 (now at Tate). The farm building is also seen from a different angle in "The Hay Wain," painted 1821 and now at the National Gallery.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013 17:11

UK Receives Major Donation of Baroque Paintings

A remarkable collection of Italian Baroque paintings worth $155 million has been donated to galleries and museums across the UK. The works were previously part of the private collection of Sir Denis Mahon, a philanthropist and heir to the Guinness Mahon banking fortune who died in 2011 at the age of 100. Mahon, who began collecting in the 1930s, was an avid believer that admission to public museums should be free of charge. In keeping with his wishes, Mahon’s generous gift will be revoked if any institution charges the public to see them.

The Art Fund charity, which oversaw the exchange, announced that the transfer of 57 Italian Baroque paintings has been completed. The National Gallery has received 25 works; 12 paintings went to the Ashmolean in Oxford; 8 pieces are now in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh; 6 works went to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge; the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery received 5 paintings; and one work was given to the Temple Newsam House in Leeds. The gift included works by Guercino (1591-1666), Guido Reni (1575-1642), Domenichino (1581-1641), and Ludovico Carracci (1555-1619).

In addition to the sizable donation, Mahon left $1.5 million to the Art Fund and 50 works associated with Guercino to the Ashmolean.  

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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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