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Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, Department of Culture Media and Sport

HLF pledges £5.9m to Ashmolean campaign

Rebecca Atkinson, 08.05.2012
Boost for campaign to buy Manet painting before export bar ends
The Ashmolean Museum’s campaign to save an Impressionist artwork has been given a boost with a £5.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The award means the Oxford museum needs to raise a further £908,000 to acquire Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus before a temporary export bar ends on 7 August.

The painting was sold to a foreign buyer for more than £28m at auction last year but under a private treaty sale with tax remission it can be purchased by an approved UK public collection at the reduced price of £7.83m.  

Since launching a campaign in February, the Ashmolean has been awarded £750,000 from the Art Fund and has also raised £200,000 through individual gifts and the Friends of the Ashmolean.

The work is currently on display at the Ashmolean. If acquired, the museum plans to use it as the focus of a broad range of public events and activities, as well as a special touring exhibition to museums across the UK.

Carole Souter, chief executive of the HLF, said, “The HLF is pleased to be playing a significant role in helping the Ashmolean secure Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, particularly as it is unlikely that a work of this calibre will become available again at such a competitive price.”

The painting, which has always been held in private collections, is a preparatory study for Le Balcon, now in the Musée d’Orsay.  

Christopher Brown, director of the Ashmolean, said: “This is a unique opportunity for a British museum to acquire this important work. If we are successful, it will transform the Ashmolean’s holdings of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, making Oxford one of the leading centres for the study of 19th-century French painting, for students, scholars and the wider public.”