Acceptance in lieu : recent acquisitions of British museums (2)

1. Paris Bordon (1500-1571)
Oil on canvas - 58.4 x 40.7 cm
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, pending a decision
on permanent allocation
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25/1/10 – Acquisitions - British Museums – As announced (see news item of 24/11/09), we list below the works acquired through “acceptance in lieu” for the period 2008/2009 (following that already published for 2007/2008). Many of these objects have not yet been assigned definitely to a museum, as the final decision is supposed to be made a month and half from now (we will then complete the information as soon as it is available).

We have already mentioned Titian, The Triumph of Love, which joined the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (see news item of 10/7/09). Another 16th century Venetian painting, by Paris Bordone, was acquired and assigned temporarily to Oxford [1] (ill.1).
Still another Renaissance work, a drawing attributed to Perino del Vaga, representing studies of arms (ill. 2) was assigned to the Fitzwilliam Museum.

2. Perino del Vaga (1501-1547)
Study of Arms
red chalk - 26.5 x 16.7 cm
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum
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Several more 17th and 18th century paintings joined British museums thanks to “acceptance in lieu”.

3. Anton van Dyck (1599-1641)
Portrait of Princess Mary
Oil on canvas - 136 x 108.5 cm
Hampton Court Palace
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- A portrait by Van Dyck representing Princess Mary (ill. 3), Charles I’s oldest daughter. This is a second version, of identical size and without any real variations, of a painting belonging to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston [2]. The model is represented at the age of five or six thus dating the portrait to around 1636. It was assigned to Hampton Court Palace where specialists think it was placed when first hung in 1647 and before it was sent to The Hague for the mother of William II of Orange-Nassau, the husband of Princess Mary.

4. Jakob Bogdani (1658-1724)
Birds in a Landscape
Oil on canvas - 122 x 136 cm
Cheltenham, Art Gallery and Museum
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- Birds in a Landscape (ill. 4), a canvas by Jakob Bogdani, a Hungarian who settled in England (where he died) in 1688, after living for several years in Amsterdam. The work is characteristic of this artist who specialized essentially in representing exotic animals. It will join the Cheltenham Museum.

5. Ambroise Bosschaert (1573-1621)
Flower Painting
Oil on copper - 69 x 51 cm
London, National Gallery,
pending a decision
on permanent allocation
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- A large Flower Painting by Ambroise Bosschaert on copper (ill. 5), typical of the painter but of unsual size. The work, datable to around 1609-1610, is a new addition to the known repertory of the artist. It would possibly join another painting at the National Gallery where it has been placed on deposit while awaiting its permanent home.

6. Francesco Guardi (1712-1793)
The Entrance to the Grand Canal
Oil on canvas - 34 x 45 cm
Northampton, Museum & Art Gallery
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- The Entrance to the Grand Canal (ill. 6) by Francesco Guardi, assigned to the Northampton Museum.

7. Bonaventure Peeters (1614-1652)
on the Schelde off Antwerp

Oil on panel - 63.5 x 129 cm
Pending a decision on permanent allocation
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- Shipping on the Schelde off Antwerp by Bonaventure Peeters (ill. 7). The figures on the right of the painting aboard the large ship have been identified as the Archduke Léopold-Guillaume, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, dressed in red, and Don Gaspar de Bracamonte y Guzman, head of the Spanish delegation during the negotiations for the Treaty of Westphalia, dressed in black and bearing the red cross of the order of Santiago de Compostela. It has not yet been assigned a permanent home.

There are of course many 18th and 19th century English portraits among the artistic offers of “acceptance in lieu”. Among the most recent ones to have entered museums are the following :

8. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Portrait of the Reverend Isaac Donnithorne
Oil on canvas - 206 x 177 cm
Pending a decision on permanent allocation
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- The Portrait of the Reverend Isaac Donnithorne by Thomas Gainsborough (ill. 8) of which a larger version can be found in the Hereford cathedral (awaiting assignment).

9. Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
Portrait of the Harcourt Family
Oil on canvas -148 x 172 cm
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum,
Pending a decision on permanent allocation
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- The Portrait of the Harcourt Family by Joshua Reynolds (ill. 9), a painting which had never been on public exhibition since the mid-19th century ; George Harcourt, 3rd Count of Harcourt, is represented in the company of his wife Elisabeth Vernon and his brother William Harcourt, who became, after George’s death in 1809, the 3rd count of Harcourt. The work is for the moment on deposit at Oxford.

10. Joseph Highmore (1692-1780)
Portrait of the Vigor Family
Oil on canvas - 76.2 x 99.1 cm
London, Victoria & Albert Museum
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- The Portrait of the Vigor Family (ill. 10) : the artist responsible for this work is much less famous than Gainsborough or Reynolds. Joseph Highmore was born in London and in fact started out as a lawyer ; although his uncle was a painter, he is not known to have studied under any master. He had a following among the bourgeois as a portrait painter of small formats [3]. This work which has been assigned to the Victoria & Albert Museum is thus representative of his oeuvre.

11. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Oil on canvas -9 2.8 x 123 cm
Norwich, Castle Museum
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12. John Runciman (1744-1769)
Hagar and the Angel
Oil on panel -17 x 28 cm
Pending a decision on permanent allocation
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A second canvas by Gainsborough (ill. 11), a landscape, joined the collection at Norwich Castle during this period. Another 18th century landscape illustrating the Biblical scene of Hagar and the Angel by an artist which is less well-known than Gainsborough was also acquired (ill. 12). This is by John Runciman, the younger brother of the Scottish painter Alexander Runciman. In 1768, John Runciman traveled to Rome but had to flee the city due to the persecution of another Scottish artist, James Nevay. Before leaving, he destroyed all of the works he had done there except for a Self-portrait, held at the National Gallery of Edinburgh. He died in Naples shortly after arriving there, at the age of twenty-five. The Landscape with Hagar and the Angel, painted on a panel and reflecting the artist’s very free brush strokes, is part of a small group of works with Biblical subjects done while in Edinburgh before leaving for Italy. It has not yet been assigned.

13. David Allan (1744-1796)
Lead Mining at Leadhills, Breaking the ore
Oil on canvas - 38.3 x 58 cm
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland
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- Four paintings by David Allan (ill. 13), at times known as the Scottish Hogarth, representing the system of lead production, which have been assigned to the National Gallery of Scotland. These works are particularly interesting as a record of an industrial process (and infant labor…) at the onset of the Industrial Revolution, despite the fact that their aesthetic value would seem to be very modest.

14. John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

Oil on panel -25.4 x 20 cm
Pending a decision
on permanent
allocation Photo : All rights reserved

- The Proscribed Royalist by John Everett Millais (ill. 14), a small panel (not yet assigned to a museum) representing a soldier hiding in a tree trunk aided by a young woman, a scene inspired perhaps from an episode in the life of Charles II who himself hid in a hollow oak tree after the battle of Worcester and before fleeing to France.

15. Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)
The Angelus
Pastel and black pencil - 34 x 43 cm
London, British Museum,
Pending a decision on permanent allocation
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The only French work to have recently joined an English museum is The Angelus (ill. 15), a pastel replica by Millet of his most famous painting held at the Musée d’Orsay, and which had not been exhibited since the workshop sale. It has been assigned to the British Museum for the moment while awaiting a permanent home. We would also like to point out an architectural drawing, a sanguine, by Jean Tijou (a Huguenot blacksmith exiled in England at the end of the 17th century) ; two silver cups bearing the silversmith seal of Phillip Rollos (early 18th century), a painting by Walter Sickert as well as other objects not falling within the time frame of The Art Tribune. A complete listing can be found in the report posted online.

Didier Rykner, lundi 25 janvier 2010


[1] It is currently hanging in the Ashmolean.

[2] See the catalogue Van Dyck & Britain, Tate Gallery, 2009, cat. 22, p. 76.

[3] Much of the information included in this news item was found in the report of “acceptance in lieu” 2008/2009.

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