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.


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Books by Jane Austen’s favourite poet return home to Chawton House

11 January 2021

Chawton House has bought a rare first edition of Poems by Jane Austen’s favourite poet, William Cowper, which was once owned by her brother.

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News In Brief – including a London dealer selling an important Thomas Hardy archive

11 January 2021

A round-up of art and antiques news from the previous seven days, including London dealer Maggs Bros selling a Thomas Hardy archive to a Dorset museum.

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Dorset museum raises funds to secure Thomas Hardy archive from London book dealer

07 January 2021

The Dorset Archives Trust (DAT) has raised the final £5000 needed to purchase a collection of important manuscript and printed material once owned by novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).

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West Sussex museum buys Edwardian designs for local church windows from London dealer

30 December 2020

Horsham Museum and Art Gallery has bought a presentation watercolour for three stained glass windows in local church St Peter’s in Cowfold from London dealers Abbott and Holder.

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Nimrod expedition sledge and flag head to UK institutions

21 December 2020

A sledge and flag from the first expedition to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton have been saved for the nation.

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Record year for Acceptance in Lieu schemes with £65m artworks accepted for the nation

21 December 2020

A record amount of paintings, antiques and historic objects were saved for the nation in lieu of tax in 2020, with £65m of objects accepted.

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Austrian artist’s rare auction appearance

21 December 2020

A group of works by the elusive Austrian émigré artist Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (1906-96) made a rare appearance at Chiswick Auctions’ (25% buyer’s premium) latest British & European Fine Art sale.

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Museum buys memorial plaque of Great War’s ‘first black officer’

14 November 2020

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Royal Warwickshire) has bought a First World War ‘dead man’s penny’ memorial plaque.

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Stanley Spencer Gallery acquires the artist's last known self-portrait drawing

09 November 2020

The last known drawn self-portrait of Modern British artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) has been acquired by the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham.

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Jasper Johns US flag artwork donated to the British Museum

04 November 2020

Jasper Johns’ screenprint 'Flags I' will be on display at the British Museum after the million-dollar artwork was donated to the institution.

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Public cash call to help keep Armada maps in the UK

03 November 2020

The National Museum of the Royal Navy hopes to raise £600,000 to stop the export of a group of hand-drawn Armada maps to an overseas buyer.

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Venetian abbey buys northern Renaissance devotional oil

19 October 2020

Turin dealership Caretto & Occhinegro Gallery has sold a previously unpublished oil by Jan Matsys (c.1510-75) to the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.

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It moss be love: naturalist’s album bought by museum

19 October 2020

At a recent PBFA fair, dealer John Underwood sold a collection of albums of mosses compiled by the naturalist Frederick DuCane Godman (1834-1919) to Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

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Pre-emptions: stepping in at the fall of the gavel

19 October 2020

Pre-emption, the right of a French museum or institution to step in at the fall of the gavel to claim a lot at auctions staged in France for purchase at the hammer price, is a common occurence in such sales.

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Getty Museum buys 39 Dutch drawings from private collector

15 October 2020

A group of Dutch drawings put together by a collector over a number of years has been acquired by the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

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Bawden’s decimal coin design makes a Mint

28 September 2020

Edward Bawden (1903-89) was one of a number of artists invited to submit designs ahead of Britain’s changeover to decimal coinage. Designs were invited for six coins: the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p pieces.

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Fitzwilliam Museum acquires European masterpieces from the estate of banker George Pinto

26 September 2020

Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum has acquired three paintings for the nation from the estate of George Pinto (1929- 2018).

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Courtauld acquires rare Gauguin manuscript through acceptance in lieu scheme

25 September 2020

A rare illustrated manuscript by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) has been acquired by The Courtauld through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme.

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British Museum buys collection of 103 Hokusai drawings rediscovered in Paris

05 September 2020

More than 100 rediscovered works by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) have been acquired by the British Museum.

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Elisabeth Frink's Royal Academy diploma withdrawn from auction and donated to Dorset History Centre

31 August 2020

Among the contents of the home of the late Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) and later her son, Lin Jammet (1958-2017), offered at auction last week, was the sculptor’s Royal Academy diploma.

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