Investment banker Pinto was an art lover and a life member of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Marlay Group, a patron of the National Gallery and a trustee of the Wallace Collection. He kept a select collection of paintings he had inherited at his homes in Kent and Knightsbridge.
The pictures have been acquired via a tax arrangement – the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. The scheme, which is administered by the Arts Council, allows for the ownership of works of art to be transferred to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax – in this case it settled £384,803 of tax.
The Fitzwilliam Museum has acquired the three paintings: two portraits of young boys by the Dutch artist Adriaen van Ostade (1610-85) and a Italianate coastal view by the Venetian painter Francesco Guardi (1712-93).
The Fitzwilliam already has two paintings and four drawings by Ostade, as well as a significant collection of over 80 prints, all of which depict his more typical subject matter of jovial peasants.
These two portraits, of a kind rarely seen in public collections, will now better represent Ostade’s oeuvre within the UK.
Guardi's capricci, mostly small in format, were very popular with Venetian collectors who often preferred their sense of invention to the topographically exact views of the city that were favoured by European visitors to Venice. There are four paintings and two drawings by Guardi in the Fitzwilliam collection but this painting will stand out as the museum’s finest example of his imaginary subjects.
Edward Harley, chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said: “The pair by van Ostade, the first portraits by the artist to enter a collection in the UK, as well as an exquisite capriccio by Guardi, show that Acceptance in Lieu is a means for museums and galleries to acquire the very best works of art.”
Auction house Christie's assisted in the arrangement.
Pinto, who died in a car accident at the age of 89, was also an avid bridge player and keen golfer. Earlier this year the National Gallery acquired a trio of 18th century pictures from Pinto via the same tax scheme.