Museum acquisitions

Museums often acquire works through donations but, in spite of funding constraints, they also make purchases to expand their collections, either bidding at auctions, negotiating private treaty sales or, in the UK, via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.


Dalí lamps

Salvador Dalí’s surrealist ‘champagne’ lamps designed for West Sussex home bought by V&A Museum

19 March 2019

A pair of ‘champagne’ lamps designed by surrealist artist Salvador Dalí has been bought by the Victoria and Albert Museum and will be reunited with Dalí’s Mae West Lips sofa.

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Candlestand bought at auction reunited with pair at York museum after half a century apart

18 March 2019

A pair of rare George II rosewood candlestands c.1745-60 has been reunited by Fairfax House in York after one of them was spotted at a Woolley & Wallis auction at the start of the year.

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Wright of Derby portrait of Captain Bayly bought by Virginia's Colonial Williamsburg collection at Sotheby's

11 March 2019

Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia has acquired a Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) portrait of an Irish veteran of the French and Indian War. The foundation bought it at Sotheby’s Old Master day sale in London in December when it sold for £40,000 plus premium.

Tony Benn

Tony Benn archive heads to British Library after help from auction house Christie’s

06 March 2019

The archive of Labour’s longest-serving MP Tony Benn (1925-2014) has been accepted by the British Library.

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Pick of the week: Quilt from a life of cold comfort sells to Bowes Museum at Tennants' auction

04 March 2019

The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle was among the buyers when Tennants sold 13 quilts that belonged to Durham hill farmer Hannah Hauxwell (1926-2018) on February 9.

‘Venus and Cupid’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Trio of high-value Old Master paintings enter museums

25 February 2019

Three major Old Master acquisitions by museums have been announced over the last fortnight. They include two works that headlined London’s latest auction series in this category.

Anthony van Dyck portrait

Hungarian government helps Budapest museum purchase £5m Anthony van Dyck portrait of English princess at Christie’s auction

21 February 2019

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has announced that it bought the Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) portrait of Princess Mary, daughter of Charles I, that sold for £5m at Christie’s in December.

Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’

Salvator Mundi: Louvre museum asks owner to loan world’s most expensive painting for Paris exhibition

20 February 2019

The Louvre museum in Paris has requested the loan of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ for its major exhibition dedicated to the artist opening in October.

Hogarth's ‘The Wollaston Family’

Local artist to auction ‘Hogarth’ artwork to help Leicester trust keep original Hogarth painting

16 February 2019

The City of Leicester Museums Trust is hoping to raise £565,000 to keep a William Hogarth painting on the walls of a local gallery.

Professor David Starkey at Hever Castle unveiling a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots discovered by dealer Philip Mould

Prof David Starkey: ‘Flair more important than great art scholarship to be a highly successful art dealer’

12 February 2019

Prof David Starkey has said the most successful art dealers, such as his friend Philip Mould, do not necessarily have the greatest knowledge of art history but rather possess 'a flair for discoveries'.

Crosby Garrett Roman helmet

Government strengthens law to protect treasure finds

01 February 2019

The government is proposing to strengthen the Treasure Act to include important finds that do not fit the current legal definition.

coffer

Oxford’s Bodleian Library buys 500-year-old book-box from Paris dealer

24 January 2019

The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries has acquired a rare 15th-century French Gothic coffer – one of the largest-surviving examples of a late medieval box used for transporting precious books.

Dickens

Charles Dickens 'lost portrait' purchase for the nation fundraising hits £60,000

21 January 2019

A public fund-raising effort to purchase the ‘lost’ portrait of Charles Dickens for the nation from dealership Philip Mould & Company has reached £60,000, a third of the asking price.

Vilhelm Hammershoi painting

Getty Museum buys classic Danish interior scene by Vilhelm Hammershøi

19 December 2018

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has bought a painting by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) barely months after it fetched a major sum at a Christie’s auction.

Pendant

Anglo-Saxon pendant found in Norfolk field voted Britain’s favourite work of art

18 December 2018

A rare Anglo-Saxon pendant found in Norfolk by a metal detectorist has been voted Britain’s favourite work of art bought by a museum.

Bulla

Metal-detecting trend boosts ‘treasure’ discoveries as numbers hit a record for second year running

13 December 2018

Bronze Age golden jewellery and a Roman goddess kept in a margarine tub are among the discoveries dug up across the UK.

A Vincennes soft paste porcelain dish

Pre-emptions in Paris: Four of the latest museum purchases at the Drouot auction centre

05 November 2018

The right of French museums to claim a lot offered at auction as soon as the final price is determined by the fall of the hammer always adds an extra dimension to any auction in France.

Mosaic

Replica of the largest British Roman mosaic to return home to Gloucestershire

02 October 2018

A replica of the largest Roman mosaic to be found in Britain could return home to Gloucestershire where it was made.

 silver ewer

Palace of Versailles buys Chinese silver ewer in private deal

24 September 2018

A rare 17th century Chinese silver ewer has been acquired by the Palace of Versailles in a private treaty sale conducted by the auction firm Beaussant Lefèvre. It is the only known surviving piece of silverware from a lavish diplomatic gift presented to Louis XIV by the King of Siam (Thailand) in 1686.

Teapot

British descendant donates silver teapot to Colonial Williamsburg museum

19 September 2018

A silver teapot that belonged to the last colonial governor of Virginia has been donated by a British descendant to the Colonial Williamsburg collection.

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