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Saved for the Nation: Van Dyck's Last Self-Portrait

Thu May 1, 2014

Sir Anthony Van Dyck's final self-portrait has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery, following the success of a public appeal by the Gallery and the Art Fund.

The appeal was one of the most successful campaigns to support a work of art of the last 100 years, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of individuals and trusts. Around 10,000 individuals made donations totalling more than £1.44m, in addition to £1.2m from two private trusts and £1.35m from the Art Fund and National Portrait Gallery.

The fundraising was completed thanks to a grant of £6,343,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing the total amount raised to £10m to purchase the portrait, with a further £343,000 to support a national tour of the painting.The fundraising was completed thanks to a grant of £6,343,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing the total amount raised to £10m to purchase the portrait, with a further £343,000 to support a national tour of the painting.

A work of huge international importance, the 1640-41 self-portrait – the last one Van Dyck created – presents an intimate image of the artist at work. Within a year of producing the portrait Van Dyck was dead, buried in the old St Paul's Cathedral with the epitaph: 'Anthony Van Dyck – who, while he lived, gave to many immortal life'.

The portrait will remain on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London until 31 August before research and conservation work is undertaken. It will then embark on a three-year tour of six museums and galleries across the UK from January 2014.

Van Dyck tour venues

  • Turner Contemporary, Margate
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
  • Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
  • Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

The campaign originally sought to raise £12.5m to prevent the work from going overseas, but the figure was lowered to £10m following the withdrawal of the export licence in March 2014.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, says: 'The campaign to save this remarkable painting has stirred up astonishing public support with some 10,000 individuals donating over £1.4m to the cause – making it one of the most successful appeals of the last 100 years.

'Art lovers and museum goers around the country are the real heroes of the hour, helping to unlock the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and other major donors.'