Partnership of museums saves £23m Constable masterpiece - Museums Association

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Partnership of museums saves £23m Constable masterpiece

Painting will be displayed at venues across UK
A partnership of UK museums headed by Tate has saved the Constable masterpiece, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831, on behalf of the British public.

The painting - one of Constable's “six-footer” canvases - is among the artist’s most significant works. It was sold to Tate by the family of the late Lord Ashton of Hyde under the Acceptance in Lieu inheritance tax scheme, which meant it could be acquired at the reduced price of £23.1m rather than its market value of £40m.

The acquisition was made possible through substantial grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£15.8m) and the Art Fund (£1m), as well as donations from Tate Members and the Manton Foundation.

The new partnership of regional and national galleries will enable the painting to go on almost constant display across the UK in order to reach the widest possible audience.

The partnership, called Aspire, is made up of five partner venues: Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, the National Galleries of Scotland, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and Tate Britain.

The painting will be displayed at Tate Britain until the end of the year before going on tour. Each partner venue is planning an education and events programme to coincide with the display, including an opportunity to “step out into the canvas” in Salisbury.

HLF chair Jenny Abramsky said: “Our investment of over £15million is substantial but reflects the fact that these moments – those that give us the chance to save such a precious and quintessentially British heritage icon – come along very rarely.

“It is unimaginable that this particular painting might have ended up anywhere other than in a UK public collection.”

Tate director Nicholas Serota added: “Through the innovative Aspire programme, the work will now be widely accessible across Britain.”

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