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Landseer's Monarch of the Glen Auctioned By Mean Spirited Drinks Brand Diageo - ArtLyst Article image

Landseer's Monarch of the Glen Auctioned By Mean Spirited Drinks Brand Diageo

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The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer, one of Scotland's best-loved paintings has been consigned to Christie’s Auctioneers, in a move that could see it go abroad.

The work of art by Sir Edwin Landseer is expected to generate international interest and could achieve more than £10m when it goes under the hammer next month in London. Landseer painted The masterpiece in 1851.

The painting has been on display in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland for the past 17 years. It was on loan from owners Diageo, a drinks brand that owns Tanqueray, Gordon's, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, and Guinness. Why this thoughtless multinational company doesn't just donate the work of art to the nation has been a public relations shot in the foot for the company, which has generated tens of millions of pounds in profit for shareholders over the last decade. Diageo officials said they had decided to sell the painting as it had "no direct link to our business or brands”. The painting appears on the label of Glenfiddich one of the best selling Whiskeys in the world. Problem is, the brand belongs to William Grant a rival company and now Diageo wants to dump the painting. In any case, this would be the perfect opportunity for William Grant to buy the painting with the thought of donating it to the Nation. 

A Diageo spokesman said. "We have made a major contribution by loaning the work for the past 17 years, but we believe the time is right for us to pass on the ownership of the painting. "The priority for Diageo is to ensure all our assets are focused on growing our business and delivering value for our employees, shareholders and the communities where we operate.” The National Galleries of Scotland has not yet said if it will attempt to buy the painting.

Another spokeswoman said: "The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer is a well-known painting which has been on public view for many years as a loan to National Museums Scotland. "The familiar image of the stag is an important Victorian picture that has taken on various layers of meaning, which include its use in advertising and as a Romantic emblem of the Highlands of Scotland. "This painting will undoubtedly draw attention now that it is up for sale.”

The red deer stag in the oil painting has 12 points on its antlers, which makes it a "royal stag". The scene is thought to be set in Glen Affric. A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: "We were delighted to have The Monarch of the Glen on long-term loan from Diageo and to display it in our Scottish galleries at the National Museum of Scotland. "Landseer's superb vision of the nobility of the Highland stag, and of the Highlands as a wilderness, was a hugely powerful image, and one which still resonates in perceptions of Scotland today.” Diageo is donating another famous painting to the Scottish War Museum, where it is currently on loan. The Thin Red Line, by Robert Gibb, depicts the 93rd Highlanders halting a Russian cavalry charge at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War in 1854.

Update: Because of pressure, It was announced today that the National Galleries of Scotland has entered into a partnership agreement with Diageo with the aim of securing The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer for permanent public display in Scotland. Under the arrangement, Diageo has agreed to gift half the estimated market value of the painting to allow NGS the opportunity to acquire the work. NGS will now embark on a fundraising campaign to secure £4 million to bring the painting into its collection and allow the painting to pass from private to public hands for the first time in its history. Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland welcomed Diageo’s partnership approach. He said: “We are delighted with this grand gesture by Diageo which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this major work to be acquired for the nation.

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