With a little over a month one month to go, Britain’s deadline for preempting the sale of this prized Titian is beginning to loom larger. Even with a recent donation of $15 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund , less than half of the required funds has been raised to meet the Duke of Sutherland’s discount price of £50M GBP by the end of the year.
It is hard to imagine a rosy scenario for a fund that is tens of millions of dollars away from reaching its goal in the midst of a global economic recession. Nevertheless, is there any doubt over the future of this painting? That in dire straits, the campaign will get an 11th hour push, as seen recently with the save of a treasured Ruben’s sketch? Or that the Duke will feel the public pressure to lower his asking price? Art world notables and the media alike seem to be encouraging whatever means to an end. Renowned Contemporary artists Tracy Emin and Bridget Riley have made public pleas to save the painting, echoing the sentiments of many others. Recently a letter calling for the save of the works was submitted to the UK Times, containing the signatures of luminaries like Lucien Freud, Peter Blake, and Anthony Caro.
Ironically enough, the threat of a masterpiece’s departure has become a lighting rod of cultural jingoism for Britain, so lauded that arts officials have come out recently to proclaim that they cause are causing an imbalance in the overall sector. An arts official recently exclaimed that opportunities for Contemporary artists are becoming compromised by an absence of funds redirected towards saving Old Masters.
So what is the best answer to such a dilemma? Gallerist Edward Winkleman recently provided some wise words to cut through the fervor.