16th century large-scale portrait of Queen Elizabeth I
Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I - saved for the nation by the Royal Museums in Greenwich

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Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth 1

What is it?

A late 16th century, large-scale, horizontal-format version of the so-called Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. These Tudor ‘English school’ portraits were commissioned to commemorate the events of 1588 and are packed with symbolism. This example is thought to have belonged to Sir Francis Drake, having been in the possession of his descendants since at least 1775.

Who bought it?

The Royal Museums in Greenwich. Unusually, the RMG launched the fundraising campaign to find the £10m asking price to save this painting for the nation before it went on the open market or was the subject of an export licence application.

Why there?

Billed by RMG director Kevin Fewster as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire this remarkable portrait of Elizabeth I”, the museum wanted to display the portrait in the Queen’s House in Greenwich where Elizabeth I was born. The oil on panel was also in fragile condition and the museum said the acquisition would “allow it to benefit from the museum’s conservation expertise”.

How was the purchase funded?

Through a public appeal which raised £1.5m (plus various other donors); £7.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund; £1m from the Art Fund and £400,000 from the museum.

Hans Coper bowl

Hans Coper bowl, created in London in 1955

Hans Coper bowl - saved for the nation by the Victoria and Albert Museum

What is it?

A bowl made by Hans Coper in 1955, an example of the studio potter’s early figuratively decorated work. It was created in the London studio he shared with fellow potter Lucie Rie.

Who bought it?

The Victoria and Albert Museum in memory of the journalist Annabel Freyberg. The bowl was sold at a Phillips auction in 2014 and was then the subject of an export ban. The asking price was £92,291.

Why there?

Coper’s early work is rare in public collections but the V&A has collected his ceramics since 1951 and have 12 other pieces tracing his career. It is on display in the museum’s ceramics gallery close to Coper’s own potter’s wheel on which it was thrown.

How was the purchase funded? 

By the V&A with contributions from Freyberg’s friends and the museum itself.

17th century Roman pietre dure cabinets

Early 17th century cabinets made for the Borghese family

17th century Roman pietre dure cabinets - saved for the nation by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

What are they?

A pair of early 17th century Roman pietre dure cabinets on later stands made for the Borghese family, probably purchased by Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle, when on his Grand Tour in the 18th century. 

Who bought them?

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Sold for £1.27m, including premium, at Sotheby’s in July 2015, the cabinets were the subject of an export ban and were acquired by the museum this year.

Why are they worth saving?

“These two magnificent ebony cabinets veneered with hardstones and mounted in gilt bronze, on neoclassical Kent revival stands, made for the picture gallery at Castle Howard, represent the high watermark of the British taste for Italian princely furniture,” said Christopher Rowell of the reviewing committee. “With the exception of the National Trust’s cabinet at Stourhead, these are the most significant Roman cabinets of this type in Britain.”

How was the purchase funded?

With £700,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund; £200,000 from the Art Fund plus other grants and benefactors.

Oil on panel of the Virgin and Child with Saint Luke

Netherlandish oil on panel

Virgin and Child with Saint Luke from the workshop of Dieric Bouts (c.1415-75) - saved for the nation by the Bowes Museum, Northumberland

What is it?

A Netherlandish oil on panel painting of the Virgin and Child with Saint Luke from the workshop of Dieric Bouts (c.1415-75).

Who bought it?

The Bowes Museum in Northumberland. Sold from the collection at Penryn Castle in 2015, it had been the subject of an export stop. The painting will also be loaned to York Art Gallery and the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Why is it important?

Lowell Libson, member of the reviewing  committee, said of the work: “This painting includes not only a painter making a drawing – a study from life – but also a delightful passage which reveals a tantalising glimpse of a painter’s studio. This adds to our knowledge of how a Flemish workshop was laid out and organised.”

How was the purchase funded?

The final purchase price of £2.29m was raised by the museum with help from the Art Fund; the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donors.

18th century drawing instruments

Set of drawing instruments in silver and shagreen case

18th century drawing instruments by maker Thomas Heath - saved for the nation by the Bath Preservation Trust

What is it?

A set of 18th century drawing instruments by the architectural instrument maker Thomas Heath contained in a silver and shagreen case.

Who bought it?

The Bath Preservation Trust paid £21,000 (plus premium) for the set at Cleveland Auction Rooms in Bristol in March. They have gone on display at the Museum of Bath Architecture along with other items describing Wood’s contribution to the design and development of the city.

Why was it acquired?

The case is engraved with the armorial and inscribed with the name of John Wood the Elder, the architect who designed some of Bath’s most famous landmarks including The Circus and the Royal Crescent. “As soon as we saw the drawing instruments in early January, we knew the most appropriate home for them and commissioned an independent valuation from Duncan Campbell of the Beau Nash gallery,” said The Bath Preservation Trust’s Dr Amy Frost.

How was the purchase funded?

With contributions from the Art Fund, the V&A purchase grant fund and local donors.