Van Dyck appeal launched to keep 'world’s most expensive selfie' in Britain

The appeal hopes to raise £12.5 million to save the painting for the nation

Art lovers are being asked help raise £12.5 million to keep the last self-portrait of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, described as “the world’s most expensive selfie”, in Britain.

Painted by the Flemish artist shortly before he died, possibly of plague, in 1641, it has been described as “one of the finest and most important self-portraits” in British art.

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has just three months to raise the funds to buy the painting, which has been sold to a collector who wishes to take it abroad.

Ed Vaizey, arts minister, slapped a temporary export ban on the painting, which dates back to 1640 and has been held in a private collection for almost 400 years.

The painting had been in the Earl of Jersey's family collection for more than 300 years. In 2009, it was sold for £8.3m at auction - nearly three times the estimate - breaking the previous auction record for a Van Dyck.

One of three self-portraits the artist produced after he was appointed court painter to King Charles I, it has now been bought by a private individual in the US, unless a nationwide appeal can match the latest rising valuation.

The largest campaign in the NPG’s history, £1.2m has already been raised including a grant of £500,000 towards the acquisition and £700,000 from the Gallery’s Portrait Fund and acquisition budget.

The painting was given a rare public viewing at a Tate Britain Van Dyck exhibition in 2009. However the Art Fund has also committed £150,000 towards a three-year nationwide tour for the painting, ensuring that the art lovers across Britain will have an opportunity to view the work, if it is saved.

Public appeals have previously helped save Titian’s Diana and Actaeon (£50m) and Raphael’s, Madonna of the Pinks (£22m) for the nation.

Campaigners accept that saving the Van Dyck, now on view at the NPG, would be a major achievement, with many other calls on the public’s generosity and Christmas approaching. A Twitter hashtag has been created - #savevandyck - and £5 donations are being accepted by text.

If the campaign can make serious headway towards the £12.5m target by February, and demonstrate that it has public backing, the Government may grant a further five months for fund-raising.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund said: “It’s the only £12 million selfie in existence. If we can save this work then others may follow in the future. We’re bringing all the latest technology to bear on the campaign.”

Born in Antwerp in 1599, Van Dyck, a prodigy of Rubens, came to Britain in 1632 at the invitation of Charles I, who rewarded him with a knighthood and the title of Principal Painter. In return, the painter delivered portraits which made the frail King appear imposing and powerful.

Sandy Nairne, the NPG director, described the self-portrait as a “revolutionary” work, which marked a sea-change in portraiture style. “No other artist has had such a dramatic impact on British portraiture as Van Dyck,” Mr Nairne said.

“He decisively turned it away from the stiff, formal approach of Tudor and Jacobean painting, developing a distinctive fluid, painterly style that was to dominate portraiture well into the 20th century.

“It is very rare to have the opportunity to make a painting as important as Van Dyck's last self-portrait available to everyone in Britain.”

Sir Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate and a member of the Arts Council’s national council, said: “This is a self-portrait everybody can enjoy. There is a paradox at the centre of the painting. The quality of expression appears to say ‘How dare you come into my studio and interrupt my work?’ That is combined with a mature and melancholy self-awareness. Perhaps the artists knew he would die in a short period of time?”

Sir Andrew added: “If we lose this painting it will disappear into private hands and eyes and it will be lost to the world. But this is a painting about living in the world and the world is where it deserves to be.”

Artist Julian Opie, whose portraits of Blur hang in the National Portrait Gallery, said: “You see Van Dyck as the artist, utterly confident and masterful with whipping brushstrokes of glistening paint. He is also the subject, witty, lively, a little cocky and very present. This is such a focused painting powerfully evoking a turbulent era. Nearly 400 years on and it sparkles with life and light.”

The NPG is seeking to save Van Dyck’s final self-portrait. Of the other two, one is in the hands of a private collector and the other is held by the Prado museum in Madrid.

Donations to the National Portrait Gallery’s Van Dyck Self-Portrait Appeal can be made online at www.savevandyck.org. Donate by text: Text VanDyck to 70800 to give £5

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us