Reynolds’s Portrait Accepted in Lieu of £4.7m Inheritance Tax

Posted in museums by Editor on August 14, 2016

Press release (10 August 2016) from Arts Council England:

Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Frederick, 5th Earl of Carlisle, 1769, oil on canvas, 241.4 × 150 cm (Tate Britain)

Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Frederick, 5th Earl of Carlisle, 1769, oil on canvas, 241.4 × 150 cm (Tate Britain)

A major full-length portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) of the 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825), aged 20, has been accepted in lieu of inheritance tax for the nation. This important painting has been allocated to Tate and will remain on public display in its original setting at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire and in the future will be shown elsewhere around the country including Tate Britain.

The portrait, which has long been recognised as one of Reynolds’s masterpieces, was commissioned by the sitter and completed in 1769 when Reynolds was at the height of his powers, having just been elected the first President of the Royal Academy. The painting has always been central to the collection at Castle Howard and has hung there for over 200 years.

The 5th Earl was a key patron and collector of the arts in the North of England in the 18th century. Dressed in formal robes surrounded by classical architecture and his beloved dog Rover at his feet, Carlisle was captured by Reynolds in a lively and highly skilled manner, marking his entry into society following his Grand Tour and his position as head of this important family dynasty. The complex composition, paintwork and use of colour illustrates perfectly why Reynolds was the leading British portrait painter of the 18th century. Reynolds’s composition alludes to the architecture of Castle Howard, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664–1726). The building of Castle Howard was completed under the supervision of the 5th Earl who filled the great house with his fine collection of Old Masters.

Edward Harley, Chairman of the AIL Panel, said: “The Acceptance in Lieu scheme has been enriching our heritage for over a century; I am delighted that this masterpiece by Reynolds, one of the most important painters of the day, has entered our national collection under the scheme.”

Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain said: “The magnificent painting of Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle 1769 is the first full-length male portrait by Joshua Reynolds to join the Tate collection. A glamorous portrait in oil of the earl and his beloved dog Rover, it is an outstanding example of the type of painting for which Reynolds is most highly acclaimed. I am delighted that this work will now enter the national collection, the greatest collection of British art in the world, and that it will be shown both in its original setting in Castle Howard and, in future, at Tate Britain and elsewhere.”

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As Mark Brown reports for The Guardian (10 August 2016).

An important 18th-century portrait of the 5th Earl of Carlisle by Sir Joshua Reynolds has been accepted for the nation in lieu of £4.7m inheritance tax. . .

The Reynolds painting has been passed down through the family and its offer to the acceptance in lieu scheme (AIL) follows the sale last year of art works and furniture by the castle’s present custodians to help secure the estate’s long-term future [Sotheby’s, July 2015]. The sale raised £12m.

The acceptance in lieu scheme was created in David Lloyd George’s people’s budget of 1910, with hundreds of outstanding objects and collections given as a way of settling tax bills.


The Fitzwilliam Acquires Pair of Pietre Dure Roman Cabinets

Posted in museums by Editor on August 14, 2016


Pair of ebony and rosewood cabinets, inlaid with pietre dure, and mounted with gilt-bronze; made in Rome, ca. 1625, likely for a member of the powerful Borghese family. The gilt-wood stands were made in England, ca. 1800, probably to the designs of the influential Regency designer, Charles Heathcote Tatham, in order to display the cabinets in the spectacular Long Gallery at Castle Howard, Yorkshire (Cambridge: The Fitzwilliam Museum).

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Press release from The Fitzwilliam:

The Fitzwilliam Museum announced today (Monday, 8 August 2016) its successful bid to raise the £1.2 million needed to save an important pair of pietre dure Roman cabinets for the nation. No other pair of Roman hardstone cabinets exist in a public collection in Britain.

The Fitzwilliam is grateful for the support of The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) for their generous grant of £700,000 and to the Art Fund for their early adoption of this project with a £200,000 grant. The Fitzwilliam also received generous support from numerous other benefactors, including the Pilgrim Trust, to prevent these treasures from leaving the UK.

These unique and highly prized cabinets have been part of the private collection at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, since their purchase by Henry Howard, the 4th Earl of Carlisle, most likely in Rome during his second ‘Grand Tour’ of Italy (1738–39). They were offered for auction at Sotheby’s London, last summer by the Trustees of Castle Howard and sold to a foreign buyer for £1.2 million.

A member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, (RCEWA), Christopher Rowell, stated that the cabinets, represent “the high watermark of the British taste for Italian princely furniture” and that “with the exception of the National Trust’s cabinet at Stourhead, made in Rome around 1585 for Pope Sixtus V, these are the most significant cabinets of this type in Britain.”

Their historic and cultural value was such that the then Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar on the 400-year-old Italian cabinets to provide an opportunity to save them for the nation.


One of the cabinets as installed at Castle Howard.

The cabinets were made in Rome in the first quarter of the 17th century almost certainly for a member of the papal Borghese dynasty, one of the most powerful and wealthy families of their day, and represent the highest quality of furniture-making in 17th century Italy. Veneered with ebony and rosewood, they have been further embellished with inlays of expensive, exotic and vividly coloured semi-precious hardstones (such as lapis lazuli and jasper) and with gilt-bronze statuettes and escutcheons. They are among the most significant cabinets of this type left in Britain, dating back to 1625.

Each cabinet sits on a Neo-classical stand, probably made ca. 1800 to the designs of the influential Regency designer, Charles Heathcote Tatham, for display in the just-completed spectacular Long Gallery at Castle Howard, Yorkshire. Fashioned from mahogany, they boast gilded caryatid supports and other classical ornaments. Showpiece cabinets, like these, were the most prestigious display furniture in 17th-century Europe and were lavishly decorated to reflect the status and taste of their owners and have been eagerly collected ever since.

Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, remarked “Splendid hardstone mounted cabinets such as these were the ultimate trophy of British Grand Tour collectors in the 18th century. With their lavish inlay of electric blue lapis lazuli, and glowing jaspers, and later English stands with gilded caryatids (supports in the form of antique maidens), they are a perfect combination of Italian pomp and English splendour. Nowhere in the UK is it possible to see a pair of Roman cabinets of quite this swagger and splendour. I am thrilled that we have saved these remarkable objects from export and that they can take their place amidst the Fitzwilliam’s world-class collections. They are a fitting acquisition to celebrate the 200th birthday of our founder, Lord Fitzwilliam.”

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of NHMF, said: “Exquisitely beautiful and exceptionally rare, it is when you consider these cabinets in their original context at Castle Howard, one of our finest country house interiors, that they become very important to the UK’s heritage.”

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund Director, said: “We are very happy to support the Fitzwilliam in acquiring this captivating pair of cabinets, a fantastic addition to the permanent collection in its bicentenary year.”

Sir Mark Jones, Chair, The Pilgrim Trust said “It is great news that these spectacular cabinets, so important for understanding the history of taste in Britain, are to stay in the country.”

The pair of cabinets will go on display at the Museum on Wednesday 10th August, when they will be unveiled as part of the celebrations in honour of the Founder’s Birthday.



Exhibition | An Amateur’s Passion: Lord Fitzwilliam’s Print Collection

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 14, 2016


Now on view at The Fitzwilliam:

An Amateur’s Passion: Lord Fitzwilliam’s Print Collection
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 9 August 2016 — 29 January 2017

Curated by Elenor Ling

To mark the bicentenary of the founding of The Fitzwilliam Museum and celebrate its collection, this exhibition looks at one of the passions of its founder, Richard 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion (1745–1816). Lord Fitzwilliam embodies both our present idea of the amateur print collector, as a non-professional enthusiast, and in the way the word amateur was understood in his day—a ‘lover of the arts’. The 198 albums that were housed in his library at the time of his death and transferred to the University of Cambridge under the terms of his bequest are testament to his love of prints. Despite his other all-consuming passions—the plight of the French monarchy in exile and the activities for the Concerts of Ancient Music—he managed to find time to boast of his collection to the exiled French court and to the Earl of Sandwich. The fact that some 40,000 prints are contained within the 198 albums gives a sense of the time and effort he expended on his collection. This small exhibition, comprising thirty-one prints and seven albums, gives a sense of the content and scope of Fitzwilliam’s print collection.

The first significant fact about Fitzwilliam’s albums is that they are arranged according to printmaker—that is to the person who made the print, rather than the artist who designed it or the work in another medium it represents. The names on the spines of the albums, therefore, usually correspond to the work of the person, or a family of engravers, regardless of whether a print was designed by the printmaker or someone else. The display begins with a small selection of Fitzwilliam’s Rembrandt prints, known at the time of his death as one of the strengths of his collection and evidently one of his earliest preoccupations. Following Rembrandt is a mixture of old masters, including Ishrael van Meckenem (c.1445–1503) and Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), as well as work by contemporary artists, such as Jean-Jacques de Boissieu (1736–1810) and Johann Christian Reinhart (1761–1847).

Fitzwilliam’s albums fall into two main categories: those he acquired complete from other sources and those containing mounted, individual prints arranged entirely by Fitzwilliam himself. The latter is the focus of this exhibition, although the first category is represented. In terms of construction, evidence suggests that Fitzwilliam assembled the work of each printmaker in turn. In general Fitzwilliam tried to acquire prints in good condition and of good quality, and paid great attention to the decorative effect of the finished sheets. Neatness, symmetry and elegance are characteristic qualities across all his albums. Large prints were usually folded, rather than cut and pasted on separate sheets (in contrast to some albums acquired from other collections).

The examples of prints from his monographic albums serve to highlight the anomalies in his collection: the outsized albums that housed his mezzotints (the chief strength of his collection of British prints) and two albums arranged by subject, ‘Imitations of Drawings’, which comprises a mixture of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian woodcuts and eighteenth-century prints produced as facsimiles of drawings. Most bizarrely of all is the strange large album called simply ‘Jesuites’, a testament to another of his admirations: St Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuit Order.

The exhibition presents what little can be gleaned about Fitzwilliam’s method of acquisition, including the single-surviving draft letter, written by Fitzwilliam just after the turn of the nineteenth century to someone who was to buy prints for him in Paris, and the names of print sellers and publishers written by Fitzwilliam as notes in a small number of the albums. The lack of documentation concerning the acquisition of prints highlights how importance it is that the majority of his albums has survived intact to this day.


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