London – The National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund today (Monday 25 November 2013) launch an appeal to raise £12.5 million and secure the last self-portrait of Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The painting has been in a British private collection for nearly 400 years but has been sold to a private collector who now wishes to take it abroad. This is the only chance a museum or a gallery in the United Kingdom has of acquiring the masterpiece. The National Portrait Gallery has an initial three months to acquire Van Dyck’s exceptional Self-Portrait (1640-1) – following a temporary Government export ban to prevent it from being taken overseas.
Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s last self-portrait is a work of huge international importance and the only portrait of the artist made during his time in Britain ever likely to be made available for acquisition by a British public collection. Given its key place in British art and history, the Gallery, with the support of the Art Fund, plans to display the portrait both at its London home and, from early 2015, at partner museums and galleries around the country. This enigmatic portrait dates from the end of Van Dyck’s life and presents an intimate image of an artist at work. He shows himself apparently in the act of painting, his hand raised in the process of applying paint to a canvas just out of sight. For today’s viewer, it conveys a sense of direct engagement with the artist as an individual, despite the passage of almost 400 years.
As well as enriching its present holding of three works by the artist, this Van Dyck painting, would make a significant addition to the National Portrait Gallery’s striking collection of self-portraits. These include works by Reynolds, Zoffany, Hogarth and Stubbs and, amongst twentieth-century and contemporary artists, Gwen John, Barbara Hepworth, Frank Auerbach, L S Lowry, Julian Opie, Gillian Wearing, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. Donations to the National Portrait Gallery’s Van Dyck Self-Portrait Appeal can be made online at http://www.savevandyck.org Should the Van Dyck self-portrait be acquired by the Gallery there will be a three-year nationwide tour to Turner Contemporary, Margate, Manchester Art Gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. Link: http://www.npg.org.uk
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