National Gallery acquires £11.6m Bellotto

August 23 2017

Image of National Gallery acquires £11.6m Bellotto

Picture: NG

The National Gallery in London has raised £11.6m to keep Bernardo Bellotto's 'The Fortress of Konigstein from the North' in the UK. It had been sold via Christie's to an overseas buyer. Says the NG's press release:

The National Gallery is very strong in 18th-century view paintings, however almost all of our works are of Italian sites. Bellotto’s 'The Fortress of Königstein from the North' is the first major 18th-century landscape at the National Gallery to depict a Northern European view, and so this acquisition creates a bridge between Northern and Southern European painting in the collection.

The painting, from the collection of the Earls of Derby, was first listed on the Arts Council's 'notification of intention to sell page' back in late 2014. The funds were raised from a number of sources:

The £11,670,000 acquisition has been made possible thanks to a generous legacy from Mrs Madeline Swallow, a £550,000 grant from Art Fund, contributions from the American Friends of the National Gallery and the National Gallery Trust, and the support of Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, the Manny and Brigitta Davidson Charitable Foundation, the Sackler Trust, and other individual donors, trusts, and foundations.

The paintings were first listed on the Arts Council site, and this normally means that the paintings were 'conditionally exempt' from some capital taxes. But the National Gallery's press release makes no mention on any contribution by the Treasury. So I'm not sure what this means. Maybe the tax was already paid at the point of sale. This would have had the net effect of making the paintings more expensive for the National Gallery to buy. IN which case, it's an even more remarkable feat of fundraising and institutional determination.

The painting is one of a series of five. I'm not sure what has happened to 'The Fortress of Konigstein from the South', but I believe it now remains in the Derby collection. The two others show the fortress with views of the courtyard (here and here) and belong to the Manchester Art Gallery. The fifth was sold to the National Gallery in Washington in 1993.

Update - a sharp-eyed reader writes:

If you notice the collection number for the work, the four previous numbers are missing from the on-line catalogue. So they have a further four new acquisitions to announce.


Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.