Acquisitions Museums United Kingdom

London’s National Portrait Gallery secures Van Dyck’s self-portrait

Gallery is able to buy painting for £10m through lottery fund grant and private donors

The self-portrait by Van Dyck is on show at the National Portrait Gallery until 31 August. Photo: © Jorge Herrera

The National Portrait Gallery has bought Van Dyck’s Self-portrait, 1640-41, for £10m, following the Heritage Lottery Fund’s decision to award a £6.3m grant. The painting had been provisionally purchased by the Los Angeles-based British billionaire James Stunt, but he pulled out of the deal in March. The price was then renegotiated, down from the original £12.5m which Stunt had undertaken to pay to the Milwaukee-based Alfred Bader and the London dealer Philip Mould.

The acquisition was announced today, 1 May, two days after the lottery fund’s decision. Other funders were individual donors (£1.4m), Simon Sainsbury’s Monument Fund (£1m), the portrait gallery (£700,000), the Art Fund (£650,000) and the Garfield Weston Foundation (£200,000). This money includes contributions towards sending the painting on tour.

The self-portrait by Van Dyck is on show at the National Portrait Gallery until 31 August, when it will go for minor conservation. For the following three years, it will be displayed partly in London and partly in regional galleries, in Margate, Manchester, Dulwich, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The portrait gallery and Tate tried to jointly buy the self-portrait for £9.5m in 2010, but the National Heritage Memorial Fund lacked the resources to award a grant. The lottery fund, which is linked with the memorial fund, then changed its policy, mainly because of the failure securing Van Dyck's painting. It now makes grants for major acquisitions—and it finally played the crucial role in saving the self-portrait.

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7 May 14
15:24 CET


It's a fabulous painting but the events of this year surrounding James Stunt's dropping out of the deal lead to considerable uneasiness about the export deferral process and the valuation of pictures that are to be "saved".

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