The National Gallery launches public appeal to save Orazio Gentileschi's 'The Finding of Moses' for future generations
Issued November 2019
The National Gallery is asking for the public’s help to raise the last £2 million it needs to buy a painting of outstanding importance for the national heritage – The Finding of Moses by Orazio Gentileschi (early 1630s) – and enable the work to stay on free public display in Trafalgar Square and continue to inspire future generations.
'The Finding of Moses' has a remarkable place in British history. It is one of just a handful of works painted during Orazio Gentileschi’s 12-year residence in London at the court of King Charles I, commissioned to celebrate the birth of the future Charles II and intended to hang in the Queen’s House at Greenwich. There is currently only one* Orazio Gentileschi work in a UK public collection, and 'The Finding of Moses' plays an important role in the National Gallery, being intrinsically linked to our recently acquired painting by Orazio’s daughter Artemisia (Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria).
The Finding of Moses has been on generous long-term loan to the National Gallery from a private collection for almost twenty years – so long that many people assume it already forms part of the national collection. It has been the subject of talks, exhibitions, publications, and educational activities, and is a focal point of the Italian Baroque gallery where it is displayed alongside masterpieces by artists such as Caravaggio and Guido Reni.
The Finding of Moses
The beauty and refinement of 'The Finding of Moses' are characteristic of the artist’s late style, but it is the painting’s monumental scale (measuring 257 x 301 cm), extraordinary ambition, and historical importance that sets 'The Finding of Moses' apart.
The painting has been an acquisition priority for the National Gallery since 1995, when we first attempted to buy it, and we have until the end of the year to purchase 'The Finding of Moses'. If we are unable to buy the painting it may be lost to the nation.
The full cost of 'The Finding of Moses' is £22 million; however, the net cost to the National Gallery is £19,471,340 by a private treaty sale arranged through Sotheby’s and Pyms Gallery.
As a charity, the National Gallery depends upon public generosity to help it achieve great things and so is working hard to raise the money required to buy 'The Finding of Moses' for the nation.
We are enormously grateful for exceptional grants of £2.5 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £1 million from Art Fund which have already been secured.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said, 'The Finding of Moses is one of the National Gallery’s most precious long-term loans and its prospective sale provides the Gallery with an important opportunity. My trustees have committed £1m, one of our largest grants to date, towards the acquisition and we hope that other funders and members of the public will feel as strongly about playing a part – big or small – in saving this masterpiece for everyone to enjoy in the national collection.'
Launching the #SaveOrazio Appeal by helping to host a 'The Finding of Moses' storytelling session with a group of children from the Soho Family Centre, National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said, 'If the National Gallery succeeds in buying the painting, it will be here for everyone to enjoy for generations to come. 'The Finding of Moses' will have found its definitive audience among the nation's pictures.
Donations to the National Gallery’s Orazio Gentileschi appeal can be made in the following ways:
- Online at nationalgallery.org.uk/saveorazio
- Over the telephone on 020 7747 5982
- Via cheque to Freepost RTLK-HERE-JSKB, Ms Stéphanie Gaillard, The National Gallery, London WC2N 5DN.