Published: February 17, 2004
The National Gallery and The Duke of Northumberland are delighted to announce they have reached a private treaty sales agreement for a Raphael painting that will ultimately allow the painting to remain in England.
The National Gallery will pay $41.5 million for Raphael’s Sixteenth Century “Madonna and Child” – known as “the Madonna of the Pinks” – from the Duke of Northumberland, who earlier had planned to sell it to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
In the 13 years “The Madonna of the Pinks” has been on loan from Alnwick Castle to the National Gallery it has developed iconic status and earned the affection of thousands of art lovers from all over the world. “The Madonna of the Pinks” (or Madonna dei Garofani) is an oil on fruitwood panel that measures 11.4 by 9 inches.
The picture depicts a youthful Virgin delighting in playing with her infant son, who is seated on a cushion in her lap. The child’s attention has been caught – his animated wriggling momentarily arrested – by the delicate pink flowers she holds, the pinks by which the painting became known. This exquisite painting was probably painted around 1506-07, at a time when Raphael was most influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, whose works he encountered in Florence. The composition is based on Leonardo’s ‘Benois Madonna.’
From the mid-Nineteenth Century onwards, there was speculation regarding the painting’s authenticity. Dr Nicholas Penny (then Clore Curator of Italian Renaissance Paintings at the National Gallery), saw the painting first at Alnwick Castle in 1991 and with the Duke’s permission brought it to the National Gallery for further investigation. Infra-red reflectography revealed underdrawing entirely characteristic of Raphael and its authenticity was affirmed by all leading Raphael scholars. This attribution was verified at a symposium of the world’s leading Raphael scholars held at the National Gallery in October 2002.
A sale of the picture to the Getty Museum was agreed at a price equivalent to $63 million, subject to the provision of an export license, however, since the Getty Museum withdrew its export license application, the picture was sold to the National Gallery.
The National Gallery received support for the purchase of approximately $21 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and approximately $750,000 from the National Art Collection Fund, together with support from the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, and many thousands of donations, large and small, from members of the public.
“The National Gallery and the Duke of Northumberland are absolutely delighted that this extraordinarily beautiful, small painting is now going to stay in this country,” Charles Saumarez Smith, director of the National Gallery, “It helps to illuminate the early phase of Raphael’s career and ensures that a picture of exceptional tenderness remains to be enjoyed and appreciated both on tour and as part of the National Gallery’s great collection.”
As part of the National Gallery’s commitment to ensure that the Raphael is seen by as many people as possible, and as agreed with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the painting will tour the country extensively. The painting will then return to London to be featured in the National Gallery’s major Raphael exhibition, which opens in October.
Henry Wyndham, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, negotiated the deal on behalf of the Duke.
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