Mozart's scores among gifts to the nation to settle tax bill

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Rare treasures including one of the most important collections of Mozart scores in the world and a painting by Rome's equivalent of Canaletto have been given to the nation to settle death duties.

The items, the gift of which was announced yesterday by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), were received under the acceptance-in-lieu scheme under which important pieces of culture are given to public institutions in lieu of paying inheritance tax.

The set of scores by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart includes rarities such as the full vocal score of his last opera, The Magic Flute, and has been lodged with the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The painting, The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitoria, was produced by the 18th-century Italian Giovanni Paolo Panini, whose reputation was rivalled only by Canaletto during his lifetime. This is regarded as one of Panini's most extraordinary works. It was worth £5m, which could have settled £2m of tax, far more than the inheritance tax of £194,047 at issue. But Christie's auction house negotiated a deal with the National Gallery which paid £1.8m to acquire it with the help of The Art Fund charity.

Other items recently accepted by the MLA, which runs the scheme on behalf of the Government, are worth more than £7.5mand have been allocated to collections in Belfast, Cambridge, Leeds, London, Oxford, Somerset and Suffolk.

Suffolk's Gainsborough's House Museum got five Gainsborough works dating from 1750 depicting members of two families of the county, the Veres and Actons, settling £203,000 tax.

The Henley family archive, relating to family lands in the West Country, dates back to Robert Henley, who acquired former monastic lands in Somerset in the 16th century. Another section of the family archive was accepted in 1995 and the new offer reunites the papers in the Somerset Record Office.

A set of medieval metalwork, including a Tudor helmet and two 13th-century swords, is yet to be allocated a home, as are a Lectionary and Sacramentary, manuscripts dating from the 10th and 11th centuries.

Other offers include a painting by Evelyn de Morgan, a 19th-century woman painter; Islamic coins which have been given to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the archive of the Earls Erne who had extensive estates in Ireland.


Charles II Gold Beaker

This gold beaker was presented in 1687 by the Levant Company, a chartered company for London merchants trading in the Levant (Turkey), to the wife of Sir William Turnbull, the English ambassador to the Sublime Porte, as the Ottoman empire was known.

Company records note: "Intimation being given that the Lord Ambassador's Lady was in expectation of a Present as her ladyship had understood other Ambassador's Lady had had, it was left to Mr Husband to provide a piece of Gold Plate to the value of about £60 to be presented to her Ladyship in the Company's name."

The cup is one of only two such presentation cups to have survived. The offer settled £92,939 of tax and has yet to be allocated.

Mozart Scores

One of the most important collections of Mozart's printed scores in the world settled a tax bill of £350,000. It includes 43 first editions, 17 works for which no manuscript survives and 25 that are not in any other UK collection. Rarities include the first edition of the C major String Quintet, K515, and the full vocal score of Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute. A first edition of the six string quartets contains Mozart's dedicatory epistle to Haydn, omitted from later editions. The collection was allocated to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Durbin Archive

Leslie Durbin, who died last year aged 92, was one of the leading British silver designers of the 20th century. His most famous work is arguably the initial design for the reverse side of the pound coin - a crown out of which grow the national emblem of the four home countries. He also made the Leningrad Sword which Churchill presented to Stalin as a gift in November 1943.

The archive consists of his designs for many projects, correspondence with the Royal Mint, proof coins for the £1 coins, and correspondence with the Royal Household for the Queen Mother's birthday medal. It settled £115,500 of tax and the archive has been allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Lectionary and Sacramentary

Two liturgical manuscripts dating from the 10th and 11th century settled £406,000 of tax and are currently with the British Library awaiting permanent allocation.

In the 19th century, both manuscripts were part of the vast collection of Sir Thomas Phillips, right, one of the great collectors of his age. The Sacramentary, which contains the liturgical services that would have been conducted by a bishop, is thought likely to have been prepared for the Bishop of Noyon in France. The Lectionary is in Greek and is important for an understanding of Byzantine art and book production.


One of the finest paintings by the 18th-century Italian painter Giovanni Paolo Panini has been acquired by the National Gallery. The painting, The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio, shows a crowd of people watching the lottery draw take place at the Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome which occurred nine times a year from 1743 onwards.

The work was shown in London in 1935 but has not been seen in public for more than 70 years. Although Panini was popular with British patrons on the Grand Tour, there are few examples of his work in British collections.

The painting is valued at £5m but the actual tax liability to be met was only £194,047. Tax rules for public institutions reduced the cost of the painting to £1.8m which the National Gallery raised with the help of a £150,000 grant from The Art Fund.