Art Fund and National Portrait Gallery in bid to save £12.5 million Van Dyck self-portrait

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 25 November 2013

Art Fund calls for donations in £12.5 million campaign for rare Sir Anthony Van Dyck self-portrait

A painting completed by Sir Anthony Van Dyck months before his death, known as one of three self-portraits he completed during his time in Britain, will leave the country for the first time in almost 400 years unless the Art Fund can raise £12.5 million to save it.

A private buyer in America has bought the baroque-framed work, but an export bar imposed by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey – who expressed his hope that a British bidder could be found for the “magnificent” painting – has set a deadline of February 13 for serious expressions of interest.

Van Dyck created the painting between 1640 and 1641, having found success as King Charles I’s principal court painter. It will be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery if the campaign, which will receive a final deadline of July if it nears the target, is a success.

“It’s like coming face-to-face with the artist, as though we have caught him at work in his studio,” said poet Andrew Motion, calling it “a work of astonishing presence”.

“There’s a wonderful sense of confidence and immediacy in his expression, as if he is looking right back across a 400-year divide.

“There’s a beautiful contrast between the loose brush strokes and his shirt and the life-like precision of his face, right down to the five ‘o clock shadow on his chin. And there’s a glamour, too, in his flowing locks.

“If we don’t save it now it may never be seen in public again.”

Born in Antwerp, Van Dyck died in London in 1641. His tomb was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

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