December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
A campaign supported by Sir David Attenborough to raise £1.5million to acquire two oil paintings by a celebrated British artist has been launched today by the National Maritime Museum.
The Greenwich museum wants to add Kongouro from New Holland and Portrait of a Large Dog by George Stubbs to its collection.
The venue has already secured £3.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £200,000 from the Art Fund, which will go towards the acquisition of the works as well as much-needed conservation work and a public programme which will allow them to be seen by the public.
Due to their place within British history and artistic culture, the paintings have been put under an export bar while an appeal is mounted to save them for the nation. Should the appeal be successful they will initially go on display in the Queen’s House, Greenwich in 2014.
The paintings, which are on public display in the museum’s Sammy Ofer Wing throughout the appeal, were commissioned by the gentleman-scientist Sir Joseph Banks following his participation on Captain James Cook’s first Pacific voyage of ‘discovery’ from 1768 to 1771 aboard HMS Endeavour. Stubbs was the pre-eminent animal painter of his day and is now widely appreciated as an 18th century European master.
His paintings of the kangaroo and dingo are the most significant artistic productions directly related to Cook’s seminal voyage, and the earliest painted representations of these iconic animals in Western art. They were first exhibited together in London in 1773 and have remained in the UK ever since.
The Museum’s bid to acquire the paintings is supported by the Royal Society and by Sir David Attenborough, who said: “I had the privilege of working with the National Maritime Museum when it staged the exhibition of the paintings made on Cook’s Second Voyage and I greatly admired the way it cared for paintings and other artefacts.
“Its Cook collections, are, of course, of world importance and I have no doubt that these two Stubbs paintings should be placed among them.”
Lord Sterling, chairman of Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund have formally backed our bid to purchase the works with very generous grants totalling two-thirds of the required funds.
“This is a fabulous kick-start to our campaign.
“Royal Museums Greenwich has a once in a lifetime opportunity to complete the acquisition of these two remarkable paintings which will enhance immeasurably the museum’s role in engaging audiences worldwide with the story of exploration.”
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said “I cannot think of a better home for these two outstandingly important works by Stubbs than the National Maritime Museum, whose collection covers the important interrelationship between art, science and exploration.
“We are delighted to be supporting both the acquisition and education plans for these paintings, helping audiences to engage with a key episode in the history of exploration. I urge everyone to support the museum in the final leg of their appeal.”
Members of the public can donate via mobile phone by texting STUB35 to 70070, online via JustGiving or in person at the museum.