Arts and History

Art Collection of Sir Denis Mahon Goes to UK Galleries

Art Collection of Sir Denis Mahon Goes to UK Galleries
Bernadine Racoma

Art lovers in Britain will be pleased to know that various UK Galleries will now be the permanent home of some of the finest Baroque works in the world. Sir Denis Mahon, Britain’s foremost art historian, has left 57 Baroque masterpieces from Italy to six different British museums. The total value of the private collection is pegged at 100 million pounds.

The bequest was made through the Art Fund charity, which was given specific instructions on how the art collection would be distributed. At the same time, the Art Fund Charity was the recipient of a cash bequest amounting to a million pounds.

The London National Gallery is one of the fortunate recipients of this generous donation. The Gallery gets to keep 25 works from Sir Denis’ impressive Baroque art collection. The pieces include works by Guido Reni, Domenichino, Guercino, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Ludovico Carracci, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Pietro de Cortona and Luca Giordano.

However, there is a condition to this bequest. First, the public must be allowed to view the pieces for free. Second, they cannot be sold.

The galleries that will benefit

Already, the pieces have been on a long-term loan to six galleries and museums in the country. These include the Scottish National Gallery located in Edinburg, which will get eight of the pieces. Oxford’s Ashmolean Gallery will receive 12 artowrks. The Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery will receive five while the Temple Newsam House in Leeds will get one. Finally, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge will house six of the art pieces.

Massive collection

The impressive art collection took more than eighty years to build. He began his collection in the 1930s, and he never spent over 2000 pounds on each piece of art. Sir Denis Mahon was thus able to amass his impressive collection for just 50,000 pounds. Since then, it has appreciated considerably in value since it is valued today at over a hundred million pounds.

His keen knowledge of Italian art led him to be given the Medal for Benemeriti della Cultura, awarded to him by no less than the President of Italy back in 1957. Mahon helped English-speaking audiences appreciate Italian Baroque painters.

Long time support of the arts

The generous donation of Sir Denis comes as no surprise to art lovers all over the United Kingdom. Throughout his lifetime, he was a consistent arts supporter, often giving to charities that benefited granting open access to the arts. The Art Fund was one of his favorite charities during his lifetime.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund charity said that it was the Art Fund’s great honor to be entrusted with Sir Denis’ private collection as well as oversee their transfer to the galleries and museums across the United Kingdom.

Sir Denis died a centenarian in 2011.

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