Two major British art galleries have raised 45 million pounds ($72 million) to buy a Renaissance masterpiece that has been in the U.K. for 200 years and keep it on public display — a purchase announced Thursday as a substantial cultural victory in tough economic times.
Britain’s National Gallery contributed 25 million pounds to buy Titian’s “Diana and Callisto,” which it will own jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland. The rest of the money came from an art charity, lottery profits and private donors. The galleries did not appeal to the public for funds.
National Gallery Director Nicholas Penny said the purchase had used up most of the gallery’s 32 million pound reserve fund, accumulated from a century of bequests.
“It’s true we’ve depleted our resources very considerably by the acquisition,” he said. “But if we hadn’t taken this opportunity I think we would diminish our chances of further bequests in the future.
“I know some people might think, why not buy 10 lesser things, but I think the National Gallery was founded primarily as a collection of great masterpieces.” The purchase means the painting will be reunited with its companion piece, “Diana and Actaeon,” which the two galleries bought for 50 million pounds in 2009.
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