Works by Turner and Lowry gifted to British nation in 2021

Sir Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of a Woman, JMW Turner’s Walton Bridge and LS Lowry’s painting of David Lloyd George’s birthplace in Manchester are among the dozens of items of cultural importance saved for the nation this year.

Thanks to Art Council England’s cultural gifts and acceptance in lieu schemes, the paintings, archives and other items worth £52m have been accepted for the nation and allocated to museums across the UK.

Turner’s watercolour (1825-8), part of one the artist’s most ambitious projects documenting the landscapes of England and Wales, has been permanently allocated to the Ashmolean Museum. It features a shepherd taking his flock of sheep down into the River Thames, a girl carrying pails of water under a yoke and a boy fishing.

Portrait of a Woman by Sir Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of a Woman by Sir Anthony van Dyck, now owned by the Kelvingrove in Glasgow. Photograph: Courtesy of Christie’s

Flemish baroque artist Van Dyck’s oil painting Portrait of a Woman (1621-27), which was the product of his trips to Italy, and which had a strong impact on Scottish painting of the period, has been allocated to Kelvingrove Art Gallery. The lady, possibly Marchesa Lomellini, is seated in a gold embroidered black dress.

Lowry’s painting of Lloyd George’s birthplace, meanwhile, strikes a contrast with the crowded industrial scenes for which the artist is better known. The painting of a solitary house, with half-drawn curtains revealing a vase of dead flowers, is interpreted as conveying the loneliness and isolation the artist felt during his life time. It has been permanently allocated to the Lowry in Salford.

Now in its eighth year, the cultural gifts scheme (CGS) enables UK taxpayers to donate important cultural objects to the nation in return for a percentage reduction in tax based on the value of the item donated.

This year, this included the sketchbooks of the Mary Fedden, which have been permanently allocated to the Tate, a fine bronze inkstand by Peter Vischer the Younger, which now resides at the Ashmolean Museum, and two intricate collages by the artist John Bingley Garland, known as the Blood Collages, at the Fitzwilliam Museum. A large sculpture by British contemporary artist Phyllida Barlow has also been allocated to Leeds Art Gallery and the Hepworth Wakefield.

David Lloyd George’s Birthplace, Manchester by LS Lowry
David Lloyd George’s Birthplace, Manchester by LS Lowry, allocated to the Lowry in Salford. Photograph: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The acceptance in lieu scheme (AIL) allows those who have an inheritance tax bill to pay it by transferring important cultural, scientific or historic objects to the nation. The scheme was created in Lloyd George’s people’s budget of 1910 and is now administered by Arts Council England, dispersing gifts to galleries across the UK.

Highlights include the late Stephen Hawking’s archive and office, which have been allocated to Cambridge University library and the Science Museum respectively, James Tissot’s Quiet, a striking portrait of his lover and muse Kathleen Newton, now housed at National Museums NI Ulster Museum, and a watercolour, Girl with Butterflies, by Frances MacDonald Macnair, an important member of the Glasgow School, which is now at the Hunterian Museum and Gallery.

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking’s archive and office have been allocated to the Cambridge University library and the Science Museum. Photograph: André Pattenden/

The archive of award-winning illustrator and children’s book author Pat Hutchins now resides at Seven Stories, an exceptional collection of British pop and figurative art formed by celebrated architects MJ Long and Colin “Sandy” St John Wilson is at Pallant House Gallery, and a group portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with her children by the workshop of Francois Clouet has been allocated to Strawberry Hill Collection Trust.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said the schemes played a vital role in ensuring that communities across the nation can enjoy cultural treasures close to where they live. “During these years, a diverse array of unusual and exceptional items have entered public collections throughout the UK, offering lasting inspiration to all for years to come.”

Of the items allocated, 70% were acquired by institutions outside London, and more than 80% of the total tax settled was accounted for by objects that have been allocated outside London.

Arts minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said it was “wonderful that so many fascinating works have been acquired through the scheme and I’m delighted that the vast majority have gone to institutions outside of London, benefiting museums, galleries and people across the country”.

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