The Art Fund has launched a campaign to save a painting by Nicolas Poussin for the nation.
The campaign, which backs the Fitzwilliam
Museum's public appeal to acquire Extreme
Unction (c.1638-40), has a target of just under £4m, a
fraction of its agreed value of £14m, because of a deal negotiated
by its current owners, the 11th Duke of Rutland's 2000 Settlement,
through the acceptance-in-lieu scheme to offset inheritance
The painting is part of a series of seven
works by Poussin based on the sacraments, which is no longer
complete: one, Penance, was destroyed by fire in
1816; Baptism was sold around 1939 and is now in the
National Gallery of Art, Washington and Ordination was
sold in 2011 to the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas after
failing to sell at Christie's in December 2010 against a £15m-20m
"One of the surviving Seven Sacraments
painted in Rome for the renowned scholar and connoisseur Cassiano
dal Pozzo, Extreme Unction ('Final Anointing') has
long been considered by critics to be the finest work from one of
the most remarkable series of paintings ever conceived," said an
Art Fund spokesman. "The painting is of critical importance to the
study of western art."
Meanwhile, Dr Timothy Potts, Director of the
Fitzwilliam Museum, said: "This would be the most significant Old
Master painting acquired by the museum in nearly a century and
would transform our representation of French art and of the
classical tradition through a masterpiece by the greatest French
painter of the 17th century."
Nearly 10% of the £3.9m required has already
been pledged, and the Fitzwilliam has until early November to raise
Extreme Unction is currently
on display in Gallery 3 at the Fitzwilliam Museum for all to see.
Admission to the museum is free.
- Organisations considering making a donation should contact
development officer Sue Rhodes at the museum directly on 01223
332939; individuals can send a contribution in the form of a cheque
made payable to the 'Fitzwilliam Museum Development Trust' to: The
Development Office, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street,
Cambridge, CB2 1RB, or give online at www.artfund.org/poussin