When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Race against time to save priceless Manet painting
OXFORD’S Ashmolean Museum is locked in a race against time to save an Impressionist masterpiece by Edouard Manet.
The Ashmolean, which only has until August 1 to raise £7.83m, is still £595,000 short of its target.
An export ban on the painting was extended to August by Culture Minister and Wantage MP Ed Vaizey to give the Ashmolean time to raise money to buy Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, painted in 1868.
There is an agreement in place to sell the painting to a foreign buyer for £28.35m.
But under a private treaty sale with tax remission, the Ashmolean as an approved public body is able to secure the painting for Oxford at a fraction of its real cost.
The museum, which launched a fundraising campaign in February, has won a grant of £5.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with £750,000 from the Art Fund and £200,000 from individuals and the Friends of the Ashmolean.
But now it is focusing its appeal on the Oxfordshire public in a final push to keep the painting in the city. It has become one of the Ashmolean’s biggest attractions since it went on display in February.
Ashmolean director Dr Christopher Brown said: “The picture is one of the most important Impressionist works in the UK and we must seize this opportunity to keep it in the country in a free public museum.
“If acquired by the Ashmolean, it will transform the museum, and indeed Oxford, into a leading centre for the study of Impressionism and 19th century French painting.
“The portrait will go on display where it can be seen by more than a million people a year. It will also tour the country to London and regional museums so that as many people as possible can learn about Manet – one of the greatest artists of any period in the history of art.
“This is a truly great picture and in the campaign’s last few weeks, we need the public’s help.”
The Ashmolean is planning a series of events to alert people in Oxford that the deadline is fast approaching.
Ten large framed copies of the painting will soon be pinned to railings at prominent locations across the city such as Oxford Castle, Wellington Square and the University Parks.
A Manet Walk is also planned for next Thursday, when Dr Brown will invite members of the public to join him on a trail to inspect the prints, leaving from the Ashmolean at noon.
The museum says the painting would be a magnet for schools from across the region studying art.
Mr Vaizey said: “If anyone is in a position to contribute, they will be helping to enrich the lives of visitors to the Ashmolean for countless generations to come.”
- To contribute to the appeal, see ashmolean.org