Joseph Wright of Derby Self Portrait

Joseph Wright of Derby’s Self-Portrait at the Age of about Forty (c.1772-73) was bought by Derby Museum and Art Gallery with the help of grants including support from Art Fund. Image: Omnia Art.



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It said £8.4m in grants were offered during the year which included £4.5m towards acquisitions.

Among the highlights was the joint acquisition of Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai (Omai) by the National Portrait Gallery and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; Joseph Wright of Derby’s Self-Portrait at the Age of about Forty (c.1772-73) by Derby Museum and Art Gallery and The Herefordshire Hoard (buried in 878) by Hereford Museum and Art Gallery.

It contributed £2.5m for the Mai (Omai) portrait  – the highest amount in Art Fund’s 120-year history. The picture will be on display in the National Portrait Gallery from June 22. 

Portrait Of Mai

Portrait Of Mai (Omai) by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the newly opened The National Portrait Gallery. Image: David Parry.

Art Fund said the grants were possible due to its 135,000 members who buy the National Art Pass as well as the generosity of trusts, foundations and donors.  

Herefordshire Hoard

One of the gold jewellery items from the Herefordshire Hoard. The artefacts, discovered by metal detectorists and declared Treasure, were thought to have been buried in 878 as a result of incursions by the Vikings. The group was acquired by Hereford Museum and Art Gallery. Image: National Museum of Wales and British Museum Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The fund said it also significantly increased its total overall grants for museums, in response to “the most challenging few years for museums and galleries since the charity was established 120 years ago”.  

Jenny Waldman, director of Art Fund, said: “It has been heartening to hear from our 850+ museum and gallery partners that green shoots of optimism are emerging after a difficult few years. Visitor figures are edging upwards, and we have seen a discernible greater confidence in acquiring and commissioning art.

“As our brilliant museum colleagues navigate their recovery from the pandemic, with the added burden of the cost-of-living crisis, our support is needed as much as ever. We are delighted that Art Fund has been able to support museums and advocate for the further significant investment they need.”