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Displaying items by tag: birmingham museums and art gallery

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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It is considered one of the most important contemporary art collections in the world, featuring Tracey Emin’s bed and Grayson Perry’s pots.

So when Charles Saatchi offered to donate the cream of his private collection – valued at upwards of £30 million – to the nation for free, he might have been forgiven for thinking it would be gratefully accepted.

But two years since announcing his generous gift, the collection has yet to find a home.

Instead, the Government has bungled attempts to secure it while a national museum has also passed on the offer.

Saatchi’s bequest includes more than 200 works by several of the world’s leading contemporary artists, among them Jake and Dinos Chapman, the Indian artist Jitish Kallat and Emin, whose unmade bed, My Bed, which came to symbolise the Young British Artist (YBA) movement of the 1990s, is included.

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