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A terracotta sculpture donated by London dealer Daniel Katz and a collection of items relating to Isambard Kingdom Brunel were among the works donated.

In total, 44 items (or groups of items) were accepted under the government’s Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Scheme over the 2016-17 period, compared to 36 over the equivalent period the year before. However, the combined value of the works was less: £39.4m compared to £47.2m.

The schemes allow individuals to transfer items into public ownership in lieu of paying inheritance tax. In all, £25m worth of tax was settled via the two schemes in the year to March 2017.

In the preface of the report, Chair of the Arts Council Sir Nicholas Serota wrote: “At a time when museum and library acquisitions budgets are under great pressure, it gives me enormous pleasure to see so many important works come into public ownership through the AIL and CGS. These schemes now provide one of the principal ways in which public collections across the country can acquire significant works, in the majority of cases at no cost to the institution.”

Ashmolean donation

The items accepted by museums under the schemes included a strikingly realistic Renaissance painted terracotta sculpture of a foot, thought to have been modelled by Gregor van der Schardt (c.1530-81) after Michelangelo’s tomb of Giuliano de Medici. Katz expressed a wish that it be allocated to the Ashmolean Museum in honour of Prof Timothy Wilson on his retirement as keeper of Western art.

Katz said: “This idiosyncratic is the perfect object to honour Tim Wilson on his retirement, a remarkable curator with the most extraordinarily inquisitive mind.”

Also donated under the CGS was a collection of 850 items relating to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his father Sir Marc Isambard Brunel. The collection of compiled by investor and philanthropist Clive Richards OBE which includes personal possessions, drawing instruments, medals, china, books, press cuttings, photos, sketches and prints has been allocated to the SS Great Britain Trust for the new Being Brunel museum in Bristol.