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1. What is the Bridgewater Collection and why is it so important?

The Bridgewater Collection counts among the most important collections of Old Master paintings still in private hands anywhere in the world. Works from the collection have been on public view in Great Britain since the early 19th century and its crucial importance to the UK heritage has long been recognised.

2. Why is it called the Bridgewater Collection?

The collection was originally formed by Francis Egerton, the 3rd and last Duke of Bridgewater, known famously as “the Canal Duke”. The core of the Collection was acquired following the dispersal of the renowned Orléans Collection after the French Revolution in 1792.

The Canal Duke had no children and on his death his estate passed to descendants of his sister Louisa Egerton, who had married the father of the 1st Duke of Sutherland. The Collection, with substantial English lands owned by the Canal Duke thus passed to the 1st Duke of Sutherland’s youngest son Francis, who took the name Egerton and was created 1st Earl of Ellesmere in 1846.

The collection passed by descent to the late 6th Duke of Sutherland, who, in 1945 placed the most famous works from the Bridgewater collection on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS).

3. Why is the Collection important to Scotland?

The Bridgewater Collection has been on continuous public view in the NGS since 1945. It immeasurably enriches the appeal and status of NGS and of Scotland as a centre of cultural excellence. The loan consists of twenty-seven paintings and one drawing by artists such as Raphael, Titian, Poussin and Rembrandt and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Originally there were 32 Old Master paintings on loan; in 1984 the NGS acquired four paintings from the collection by Private Treaty with an NHMF grant: Lotto (NG 2418), Tintoretto (NG 2419), Dou (NG 2420), Steen (NG 2421); in 2003, the NGS acquired Titian’s 'Venus Anadyomene', partially in lieu of inheritance tax and with the aid of generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish Executive

4. Why are Titian’s 'Diana and Actaeon' and 'Diana and Callisto' from the Bridgewater Collection so special?

The two Titians from the Bridgewater Collection ('Diana and Actaeon' and 'Diana and Callisto') are among the supreme masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

They were among the first privately owned old master paintings to be made accessible to the public in Britain, as visitors were allowed to see them in a London townhouse on certain days, from as early as 1806.

They have been available to the public almost continuously ever since and can be considered as of vital importance to the national heritage.

5. Where did the money come from to buy Titian’s Diana and Actaeon?

The breakdown of funding is as follows:

  • £7.4 million in donations and pledges from individuals, trusts and the general public, of which £150,000 was donated via the Art Fund. (The amount raised from the general public in response to leaflets, direct mail, collection boxes, sales of badges and the media is circa £400,000)
  • £2 million from Monument Trust
  • £1 million from the Art Fund
  • £10 million from NHMF
  • £12.5 million Scottish Government, special purchase grant, made available from existing culture budgets
  • £12.5 million from NGL, comprising £11.5 from bequests, general donations and investment income from these sources and £1 million Grant-in-Aid
  • £4.6 million from NGS purchase funds, trust funds and reserves

6. How does the deal work?

A down-payment of £1 million has been paid on 28 January 2009 and the painting has now been acquired. The balance of the price of £50 million will be paid in installments over the next three years.

This acquisition also secures a loan of the rest of the Bridgewater Collection currently on show at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh for 21 years. The two Galleries have been granted an option, exercisable at any time until the end of 2012, to acquire Titian’s 'Diana and Callisto' for a similar amount to that paid for 'Diana and Actaeon'.

7. Have the Galleries received all the funds and what is the difference between a pledge and a donation?

A significant proportion of the total price is already held by the two Galleries. Other donations have been pledged over time. We describe a charitable gift of cash as a donation and the promise of a charitable gift of cash over a period of time as a pledge. A pledge can come in many forms; some are legally binding others are simply a promise. The Galleries have until 2011 to pay the final installment of the total sum required.

8. How did you agree the price?

This was a matter for discussion with the owner. The Galleries believe that the price agreed is extremely beneficial to the nation and this is supported by independent valuations obtained.

9. Would it not have been better to allow the works to be sold on the open market so that HMRC could collect the tax and raise some money in these times of financial difficulty?

The taxes which would have been raised on a sale on the open market would have had a minimal impact on the nation’s finances. But the potential loss of these great works from public view would be a great misfortune for Scotland and the UK.