Derby museum scoops two Wrights

June 20 2016

Image of Derby museum scoops two Wrights

Picture: Guardian/Derby Museum

We often hear about how difficult it is for museums to buy at auction - time is tight, and it's almost impossible to raise large amounts of money on both a speculation and within weeks. But Derby Museum has audaciously secured a pair of Wright of Derby landscapes from a recent sale at Christie's in New York for $293,000. They had just ten days to raise the money.

The landscapes relate to the famous industrialist, Sir Richard Arkwright; one shows his mill at Cromford (above), and the other his home, Willersley Castle. The pictures were offered at Christie's in New York as part of their Classic Art Week, and were estimated at $300,000-$500,000 (which I thought was cheap). The final price, which includes premium, means they sold for well under the lower estimate, and represents a bargain for two works in good condition. The money was raised through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Fund and the museum's own Friends organisation. A starring role was played by the Duke of Devonshire. More here in The Guardian.

So, many congratulations to Derby Museum and everyone involved for showing such ambition and energy. Other museums, take note - it can be done. 

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