The scheme, which is administered by the Arts Council, allows for the ownership of works of art to be transferred to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax. In this case it is from the estate of Sheran, Lady Hornby, in memory of her uncle, Major Victor Cazalet (1896-1943). It settles tax of £1.46m. Christie’s Heritage Advisory Service assisted in the acquisition.
Painted in a wood near Paris c.1874-80, L’allée au bois is an example of Renoir’s skill as a landscape painter.
Anne Stewart, senior curator of art at National Museums NI, said: “This acquisition is a significant moment for Northern Ireland. More than 100 years after his death, Renoir remains a renowned Impressionist artist and his revolutionary landscapes are celebrated worldwide. Acquisitions reflect a time and a place, and in the case of this exquisite Impressionist painting, the beauty of a light-filled wood suggests escape, well-being, healing, and security.”
The museum said the picture will help give a deeper understanding of the work of ‘Irish Impressionists’ such as Roderic O’Conor, John Lavery and Paul Henry who travelled to France to study painting in the years after 1870.
Helen Birchenough, chair of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said the painting was acquired in a hybrid agreement with funding from the Department for Communities (for Northern Ireland), the Art Fund, The Esmé Mitchell Trust and the Friends of Ulster Museum.