Manet portrait saved for the nation after £8m campaign


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The Independent Culture

A portrait by French painter Edouard Manet has been saved for the nation after an eight-month campaign raised almost £8 million to buy it.

The oil painting, Portrait Of Mademoiselle Claus, was sold to a foreign buyer last year for £28.35 million but the Government put an export bar on it and under the terms of its sale it was made available to a British public institution for just over a quarter of its market value.

The campaign, which included donations from more than 1,000 members of the public, succeeded in raising the £7.83 million needed to buy it for its new home at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Public donations ranged from £1.50 to £10,000 and were added to £5.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £850,000 from The Art Fund.

Museum director Christopher Brown said: "The public's response to the campaign for the Manet has been overwhelming.

"The museum is enormously grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, other foundations and many individuals who contributed so generously and helped us save Manet for the public.

"To have succeeded in acquiring the portrait this year, when the UK is in the international spotlight, is something of which the museum and the entire country can be proud.

"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 picture, which dates from 1868, is a portrait of musician Fanny Claus who was a friend of Manet's wife and is the first version of his work, The Balcony, which hangs in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

Manet, who died in 1883, is regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern art.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said he was "delighted" the painting would stay in the UK.

He said: "I congratulate the Ashmolean on their campaign and it's wonderful that Manet's painting will now be on public display where it can be enjoyed and appreciated by all."

The painting will be lent to a succession of museums and galleries in a nationwide tour next year.