Museum acquisitions

Museums often acquire works through donations but, in spite of funding constraints, they also make purchases to expand their collections, either bidding at auctions, negotiating private treaty sales or, in the UK, via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.


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British Museum buys collection of 103 Hokusai drawings rediscovered in Paris

05 September 2020

More than 100 rediscovered works by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) have been acquired by the British Museum.

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Elisabeth Frink's Royal Academy diploma withdrawn from auction and donated to Dorset History Centre

31 August 2020

Among the contents of the home of the late Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) and later her son, Lin Jammet (1958-2017), offered at auction last week, was the sculptor’s Royal Academy diploma.

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The Magic Circle reunited with lost copy of the earliest known English book on performing magic

26 August 2020

The 16th century book 'The Discoverie of Witchcraft' by Reginald Scot is the earliest known book in English explaining how to perform magic.

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Dealer’s kitchen antiques collection finds new home

24 August 2020

A vast collection of Victorian kitchen antiques formed by a dealer from Kent has found a new home in North Yorkshire.

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Texas museum boosts Spanish art collection with five acquisitions from Madrid gallery

20 August 2020

De la Mano Gallery in Madrid has sold five works to The Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas.

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Dealers sell Egyptian statue from Thomas Cook collection to City of Leicester for £150,000

17 August 2020

An ancient Egyptian granite statue has been sold to the City of Leicester from the collection of travel business Thomas Cook in a deal negotiated by London dealers Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch.

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Film producer buys Seacole bust for 101 times the estimate

10 August 2020

A terracotta sculpture of Mary Seacole (1805-81) sparked fierce competition at Dominic Winter.

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Bust of British-Jamaican Crimean War heroine Mary Seacole sells for £101,000 at auction and heads to Nightingale Museum

04 August 2020

A terracotta sculpture of Mary Seacole (1805-81), who nursed dying and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, will go on display in the Florence Nightingale Museum after it was sold at auction last week.

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Archaeological discoveries made by the public reach 1.5 million

09 July 2020

The number of archaeological objects unearthed by the British public since the start of The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has reached 1.5 million items.

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From obscurity to TEFAF to the Mauritshuis: portrait reclaims its rightful place in marital diptych

02 July 2020

Portraits of a husband and wife have been reunited after nearly 125 years thanks to a new acquisition by the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

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Pallant House acquires 1960s painting of first gay kiss in British theatre

30 June 2020

Pallant House Gallery in Chichester has acquired a series of five paintings depicting the first gay kiss and drag ball in British theatre.

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Louvre secures Renaissance bronze by French sculptor

15 June 2020

A newly discovered bronze by a French Renaissance sculptor was acquired by the Louvre museum for €1.15m (£1.05m) at an auction in Paris on June 9.

The Drunkard by Joaquín Sorolla

Dealer Daniel Katz sells Sorolla’s study of a drunkard to National Gallery

11 June 2020

The National Gallery in London has bought a painting by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) for £325,000 from London’s Daniel Katz Gallery.

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West Dean buys new picture revealing its grand 19th century entrance hall

27 May 2020

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has bought a watercolour depicting the grand entrance hall of college's residence.

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‘The dust and mud of humanity’

26 May 2020

In 2017, this lost portrait miniature of a young Dickens emerged at an auction in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa where it sold together with some household goods for the equivalent of £27.

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National Gallery acquires trio of 18th century pictures from late art patron via tax scheme

22 May 2020

The National Gallery has taken ownership of three pictures by 18th century greats Jean-Etienne Liotard, Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Thomas Lawrence.

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Bodleian Library gobbles up chocolate box mini-museum for ‘edible’ books collection

21 May 2020

The Bodleian Library has added an unusual piece of culinary history to its collection.

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Export-blocked 18th century harpsichord bought by Gainsborough’s House museum

20 May 2020

A harpsichord that was sold at The Canterbury Auction Galleries in 2018 to a US buyer and later barred from export by the government has been saved for the nation by Gainsborough’s House museum.

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ATG letter: High price? Not for the archive of ephemera that came with it

27 April 2020

MADAM – In your recent report on the Toovey’s book sale (ATG No 2437) you mention the purchase of the Pear Tree Press publication 'Ten designs for Two Gentlemen of Verona'.

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Philip Mould sells “Pride and Prejudice” portrait miniature to Jane Austen’s House museum

15 April 2020

Dealer Philip Mould has sold a portrait miniature of the woman who inspired a classic Pride and Prejudice character to the Jane Austen’s House museum in Chawton.

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