Appeal keeps Van Dyck picture in UK
9:57am Thursday 1st May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
A self-portrait of painter Sir Anthony van Dyck is to stay in the country after a successful campaign raised more than £10 million to save it for the nation.
The work, which dates back to 1640, was offered to the National Portrait Gallery after billionaire art collector James Stunt, who is married to Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone's daughter Petra, agreed to withdraw.
The work was in a private collection for almost 400 years before it was sold - forcing the Government to issue a temporary export bar which allowed campaigners time to try to save it.
A grant of £6.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund combined with donations from the public, two private trusts, the Art Fund and the gallery saved the work for the nation.
Dame Jenny Abramsky, who chairs the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: " This Van Dyck self-portrait is very special. It nearly left these shores forever and I'd like to congratulate the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund for their tenacity in running such a successful fundraising campaign over the past six months.
"It's a superb painting, marking the turning point in the history of portraiture, and as such I'm proud that the Heritage Lottery Fund has been able to dig deep and make an investment of £6.3 million in order to help secure it for the nation."
The painting will stay on display at the central London gallery until the end of August before being taken to six museums and galleries around the country, including Newcastle, Birmingham and Edinburgh, from January.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This is fantastic news. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and countless donations from individuals and groups, this wonderful picture - a masterpiece by any standards - will be enjoyed, free of charge, in the National Portrait Gallery for many generations to come."
Van Dyck was born in modern-day Belgium and came to work in England in 1632 at the invitation of King Charles I.