A report published by Arts Council England has revealed the details of 27 gifts offered by private owners to British public collections, with a total value of £44.3m, that have been left to the nation in the last twelve months; this includes masterpieces by Van Gogh, Van Dyck, and Constable, not to mention the personal collection of the late Lucian Freud.
This quantity of gifts is twice the value of artworks offered to the nation ten years ago. This change in generosity is the result of the ‘Acceptance in Lieu scheme’ allowing owners to use important artworks to pay inheritance tax. The 2014 quota of gifts is the second-highest value offered in the last ten years, after £49.4 million was accepted in 2013. This occurred after the national collection was increased by the introduction of the ‘Cultural Gifts Scheme’ which encourages gifts of art to the nation during the donor’s lifetime.
Paintings by Gainsborough and Constable havebeen bequeathed, work by Vincent Van Gogh, a collection of political posters and more than 40 sketches and paintings from the personal collection of the late Lucian Freud – along with a 15th century manuscript, and a leather coat from the period of Charles I.
Van Gogh’s oil painting ‘Head of a Peasant Woman’ which dates to around 1884 has been gifted to the National Gallery. Whereas Freud’s personal collection of artworks including 40 works by his contemporary, and dear friend Frank Auerbach – and a sketch by Pablo Picasso – was offered in lieu of £16 million of tax from his estate.
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Arts Council England chairman, said of Freud’s bequeathed collection: “There is something of special significance in the perception that one great artist has of another. It was this group of paintings and drawings, rather than his own works, that Freud chose to surround himself with in his home.”
Ed Vaizey, culture minister stated to the press: “These two schemes are making a great contribution to the range and richness of our cultural heritage. It’s great to know that the items that have now moved into public ownership will now be available for everyone to appreciate and enjoy for generations to come.”