The c.1756 oil on canvas, The Fortress of Königstein from the North, was purchased for £11.67m. The amount was raised with the help of a $6.5m contribution from the American Friends of the National Gallery, £3.5m from the National Gallery Trust and £550,000 from Art Fund. A further £2.6m was raised with the help of donations from gifts and wills.
It was sold last year by the 19th Earl of Derby to a foreign buyer for £11m. The higher price paid by the gallery following the deferral of the export licence reflects the fall in sterling in the intervening period, according to the Art Newspaper.
Director of the National Gallery, Gabriele Finaldi, said that the painting shows Bellotto “as one of the greatest view painters of his time. It is a truly significant acquisition of the National Gallery”.
The 4ft 4in x 7ft 9in (1.32 x 2.36m) panoramic picture shows a view near Dresden combining topographical accuracy in the depiction of the fortress with pastoral invention in the figures. It represents the first 18th century landscape painting in the National Gallery’s collection to depict a northern European, rather than an Italian, view.
It is currently being shown at the National Gallery in a special display and will remain there as part of the permanent collection.