Ashmolean Museum Bags Trio Of Treasures With Art Fund Backing

By Culture24 Staff Published: 29 January 2009

A picture of a jug with intricate blue patterns and crests

The £97,250 jug will feature in the new European Ceramics gallery at the museum. Pic courtesy The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

An earthenware jug used in England in the late 16th century, an Italian pottery glazing created by one of the masters of the maiolica style and a large etching by abstract painter Ben Nicholson have been secured by Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum in a spree of more than £100,000 aided by major grant funding.

The Art Fund and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund provided around half of the £97,250 required to prise the English delftware jug from the collection of the late Simon Sainsbury, which will feature in the European Ceramics gallery when the new museum building opens in November 2009.

Ferdinando Maria Campani decorated his maiolica plate with an allegorical scene and the arms of the Marquess of Rockingham in the 18th century, a work believed to have been commissioned by the Earl of Malton, whose enamour with the Italian’s work may have been fostered when he took part in the Grand Tour in Siena in 1749.

A picture of a sketch-style depiction of the inside of a cathedral

The Art Fund gave £2,000 in aid of the purchase of Ben Nicholson's Siena

Siena, Nicholson’s 1966 etching named after the city which was home to one of his favourite cathedrals, joins two other pieces in the museum representing his experimental print-making.

Dr Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean, said the museum was “extremely lucky” to have had the Art Fund’s “crucial” support. “These grants have enabled the Museum to expand its peerless collections which represent wide-ranging artistic styles and media, preserved for the enjoyment of the public and future generations of visitors,” he added.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “These remarkable purchases not only reveal the extraordinary range of The Art Fund’s patronage, but also bear witness to the profound influence that Italian culture has exerted on English artists and collectors down the ages."

The Ashmolean is currently closed as part of renovations including 39 new galleries, an education centre and conservation studios.

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