Edouard Manet’s “Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus” will stay in the UK after donations from more than 1,000 individuals, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund.
Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum was able to buy the impressionist painting for £7.8m – just 27 per cent of its market value – after an eight-month fund-raising campaign to stop it being sold to a foreign buyer.
Ed Vaizey, culture minister, placed a temporary export ban on the painting after it was judged to be of outstanding cultural importance, preventing it from being sold to an overseas buyer last year for £28.4m. Under the terms of a private treaty sale, the painting was made available to a British public institution at a cheaper price.
Dr Christopher Brown CBE, director of the Ashmolean, said the public’s response to the fund-raising campaign had been “overwhelming”.
He thanked the 1,048 people who donated sums which ranged from £1.50 to £10,000, as well as the Heritage Lottery Fund, which contributed £5.9m, and the Art Fund, which gave £850,000.
“This is one of the most important pictures of the 19th century, which has been in Britain since its sale following the artist’s death” in 1883, he said. “Its acquisition has transformed the Ashmolean’s collection and has at a stroke made Oxford into a leading centre for the study of Impressionist painting,” he said.
There are only a handful of important pictures by Manet in the UK. The portrait is a first version of Le Balcon, a key image of the Impressionist movement, which is now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.