The National Gallery announced this week that they have been able to save a rare medieval panel painting for the nation. The acquisition was made possible by the generosity of American businessman, philanthropist and art collector Ronald S. Lauder who provided the funds to enable the National Gallery to purchase it.
Giovanni da Rimini’s Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints is a gold-ground panel painting, made around 1300-05 and is the only high-quality work from 14th century Rimini still in the UK. The 700 year old painting had been in the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle since 1894, until it was sold at auction in July last year. A temporary export bar was put on the painting by the Minister of Culture in order to give a UK gallery the chance to match the £4.9million price and keep this rare work on public display in the UK.
Giovanni da Rimini was one of a small group of artists who were working in the Italian port city of Rimini in the early 14th century. The group were notable for their new expressive style with an emphasis on observation and realism that made Rimini a centre of artistic innovation at the time. Giovanni da Rimini is considered to be the most talented of the group and Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints is a fine example of his work and, considering its age, in excellent condition. Surviving paintings by members of the School of Rimini are rare and paintings by Giovanni, of which there are only three confidently ascribed to him, even more so. All these factors made it imperative that this rare and important work stay in the UK.
Thanks to the cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder (son of Estée) stepping in to provide the funds, the National Gallery has been able to acquire the painting. The deal is that the painting will be loaned to Lauder for his lifetime with the painting returning to the National Gallery for regular visits. The first of these visits will be in 2017 and thereafter the panel will return every three years until it returns to the National Gallery permanently when the loan ends at Lauder’s death.
The National Gallery
London WC2N 5DN