£10m Art Fund campaign to save Elizabeth I portrait - Museums Association

£10m Art Fund campaign to save Elizabeth I portrait

Painting could enter public collection for first time in its 425-year history
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Eleanor Mills
Royal Museums Greenwich and the Art Fund have launched a fundraising campaign to save the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (c.1590) for the nation.

The portrait records the famous victory the English won over the Spanish Armada in 1588, and is one of the most iconic paintings of the era.

The price of £10m, net of tax, is thought to be very generous for this unusual artwork, though it has been difficult to value because of its unique quality and stature.

The descendants of famed seafarer Francis Drake have owned the painting since the first record of it in 1775. It is even speculated that Drake might have commissioned it, given the maritime subject matter that commemorates a great naval triumph.

The Art Fund has committed a sum of £1m towards the campaign to save the painting for the nation, and Royal Museums Greenwich have donated an unprecedented £400,000, leaving £8.6m to raise before the end of July.

If the money is raised, the portrait will go on display in the newly-reopened and restored Queen’s House in Greenwich, where Queen Elizabeth I was born.

Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund, said: “This campaign is a huge challenge but we believe in the power of popular support to make great things happen. This picture truly belongs at Greenwich, and having it here forever is tantalisingly within our grasp.”

A public fundraising campaign has been launched, while private donors will be approached by Royal Museums Greenwich to help save the painting for the nation.

Kevin Fewster, the director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “Royal Museums Greenwich has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire this remarkable portrait of Elizabeth I, so that it can be permanently shown in a public collection for the first time in its history, and safeguard its future.

“If our campaign is successful, it will be the centrepiece of a lively programme of displays, talks, tours, and education initiatives. With 2016 being the 90th birthday year of our present Queen, there could not be a more appropriate way to celebrate the second great Elizabethan era.”

Links and downloads

Donations can be made at www.artfund.org/armada, or by texting the word “Armada” to 70800 to donate £10 instantly.

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