Ashmolean acquires threatened Manet portrait for £7.83m - Museums Association

Ashmolean acquires threatened Manet portrait for £7.83m

Painting saved from export abroad
The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has acquired a Manet portrait for £7.83m following an eight-month campaign to stop the work from being sold overseas.

Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus
was sold to a foreign buyer for more than £28m at auction last year but was judged to be of outstanding cultural importance and placed under a temporary export bar until 7 August.

Under the terms of a private treaty sale, the painting was made available to a British public institution for 27% of its market value.

The Ashmolean launched a campaign to acquire the work in February and was awarded £850,000 from the Art Fund. The Heritage Lottery Fund pledged a further £5.9m grant towards the purchase in May, with the final money raised through grants and donations from trusts, foundations and private individuals.

The acquisition is the most significant in the Ashmolean’s history.

Christopher Brown, director of the Ashmolean, said: “This is one of the most important pictures of the 19th century which has been in Britain since its sale following the artist’s death in 1884. 

"Its acquisition has transformed the Ashmolean’s collection and has at a stroke made Oxford into a leading centre for the study of impressionist painting.”

The portrait is a first version of Le Balcon, now in the Musée d’Orsay, which is considered one of the key images of the impressionist movement. The portrait’s subject is Fanny Claus (1846–1877), the closest friend of Manet’s wife Suzanne Leenhoff who died of tuberculosis at the age of 30.

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