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‘First State’ by William Blake. One of six works by Blake from the estates of Mary Keynes and Stephen Keynes to be accepted and acquired via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme by the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Photo courtesy of Currey & Co.

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Art in lieu of tax hits new top level

A record amount of paintings, antiques and historical objects were saved for the nation in lieu of tax in 2020, with £65m of objects accepted. In total the items settled £40m of tax.

The government said 2020 was a record-breaking year for the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) and Culture Gifts Scheme (CGS) schemes. AIL allows for the ownership of works of art to be transferred to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax. Both schemes are administered by the Arts Council England.

Among the items to be acquired by museums and galleries are 15 works by German-British painter Frank Auerbach (b. 1931) and a group of 32 monoprints by Russian artist Naum Gabo (1890-1977). Other items acquired include works from the collection of Sir Geoffrey Keynes and offered from the estates of Mary Keynes and Stephen Keynes.

These items were copies of The Acorn magazine and six works by William Blake (1757- 1827). The Acorn is a childhood magazine, running to 15 issues, produced by members of the Keynes family, most famously the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946).

The magazines and autograph collection have been allocated to Cambridge University Library and the Blake works to the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Christie’s closes access to library

Christie’s has ended external access to its library and archive. In a statement it said: “As a courtesy Christie’s has previously supplied complimentary archival information for the purposes of research. However, we are regrettably no longer able to fulfil these requests or to answer enquiries from external agencies.”

Tableware archive served at auction

Thomas Goode & Company, Mayfair retailer of tableware to royalty and celebrities since the 1840s, plans an auction of its archive.

The company kept one copy of each article supplied for its own archives, and now Sotheby’s will offer these items with the proceeds to fund the refurbishment of the Thomas Goode Arts & Crafts building in South Audley Street.

The firm, which is part owned by Elton John, said this is the first time it has had a clear-out since it opened.

The auction runs online until January 8.

Cleopatra sculpture export blocked

An export block on an ivory sculpture, Death of Cleopatra by Henri de Triqueti, has been announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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The 15in (38cm) high ivory and bronze statuette of Cleopatra dying by Henry-Joseph-François Baron de Triqueti (1803-74). Signed and dated H De Triqueti, 1859, it is on a red marble and ebony base.

It was purchased at Bamfords in Derby in January 2019 for a hammer price of £22,000 by the current owner (as reported in ATG No 2382).

The owner applied for an export licence to take the artwork overseas and it is now valued at £150,000.

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage placed the temporary export bar on the artwork because the artist, Henri de Triqueti, has “national significance” and his “royal connections and influence on sculptors in Britain mean it would be a great shame to lose this exquisite sculpture abroad”.

The decision on the export licence application for the sculpture will be deferred until March 17 and may be extended until June.

LS Lowry makes Isle of Man return

A street scene by LS Lowry (1887-1996) that had previously set an artist’s record when it sold at auction will be offered again next year by the same firm on the Isle of Man.

Back in July 1980, the view of Crowther Street in Stockport sold for £21,500 at Chrystals Auctions in Douglas as a local Manx lady managed to outbid the London trade.

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'The street with many steps' (Crowther Street) by LS Lowry, to be offered by Chrystals Auctions on the Isle of Man.

The work remained on the island and recently Murray Keefe, the son of John Keefe who was on the rostrum 40 years ago, discovered the painting while clearing the now-deceased lady’s former house in Laxey following the death of her brother.

Chrystals, which is acting for the executors of the family, will offer at the 19 x 15in (48 x 38cm) oil on canvas in 2021. It will announce the date of the sale and the estimate in the New Year.

The work itself is signed and dated 1961. An earlier view by Lowry of same location from 1930 is owned by Stockport Heritage Services.

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In Numbers

27,400

The number of Roman coins and artefacts seized by French authorities in Belgium. They are believed to have been illegally excavated throughout eastern France. Following a joint investigation by the two nations, officials found the hoard in the possession of a French man and his mother living in Belgium.