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Two new acquisitions go on display at the National Gallery

Paintings by Veronese and Lo Spagna are now part of the national collection, thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme

Issued July 2022

Visitors to the National Gallery can enjoy discovering two works which have gone on display for the first time today (Tuesday 26 July 2022), new additions to the national collection thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

'Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family'

Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family (about 1585) by Paolo Veronese (1528 –1588) can be seen in Room 12, and Christ Carrying the Cross (perhaps 1500–5) by Lo Spagna (active 1504; died 1528) is now in Room 61.

Although Veronese was one of the outstanding Venetian Renaissance painters, he produced very few independent portraits. The National Gallery has one of the most remarkable holdings anywhere of the artist’s work, until this most recent acquisition encompassing 10 paintings, none of them is a portrait and none of them dates from the final years of his life.

'Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family' was the only full-length portrait by Paolo Veronese to remain in private hands in the UK and one of the very few in existence anywhere. Therefore, this acquisition is a unique opportunity for the National Gallery to enhance and enrich its collection.

This large full-length portrait depicts a gentleman seated in a chair in front of a column. A green drape cascades behind him. The sitter looks intently to his right, wearing a luxurious outfit of black satin trimmed with ermine. Historic sources identify the sitter as a member of the Soranzo family, a prominent Venetian noble clan for whom Veronese worked during much of his career.

'Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family' was painted a few years before the artist’s death. The restrained palette, marked play of light and dark, and loose, crumbly handling of paint all suggests a date around 1585. Unlike most portraits of Veronese’s later years, which are largely executed by his workshop collaborators, A Gentleman of the Soranzo Family is almost entirely by the master.

The portrait is a strong complement to other great 16th-century portraits in the National Gallery’s collection and connects to the wider history of full-length portraiture in Europe. In Room 12 it hangs alongside portraits by Titian (active about 1506; died 1576), Bronzino (1503–1572) and Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8 – 1543).

Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family was accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government under a hybrid arrangement and allocated to the National Gallery. The acceptance of the painting settled £3,431,682 in tax and the National Gallery, to whom it has been permanently allocated in accordance with the condition of the offering estate, has made good the difference with a donation of £5,721,318 from the American Friends of the National Gallery, London. The Acceptance in Lieu was negotiated by Christie’s.

'Christ Carrying the Cross'

The acquisition of 'Christ Carrying the Cross' will strengthens the National Gallery’s rich holdings of Central Italian pictures made around 1500 and permanently reunites two paintings made for the same ensemble.

'Christ Carrying the Cross' originally belonged with Christ at Gethsemane, which has been part of the National Gallery’s collection since 1900. It seems likely that these panels were the wings of a small portable altarpiece. Its central component is lost, but it probably represented a crucifixion scene. Both 'Christ Carrying the Cross' and 'Christ at Gethsemane' are described in 19thth-century sources as having come from the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence.

In 'Christ Carrying the Cross', Lo Spagna has stripped away the usual narrative elements of the scene. Christ appears alone as he journeys towards death, without the raucous procession that traditionally accompanies him. Bending under the weight of the large wooden cross, Christ turns his gaze towards the viewer as he makes his way forward along the road to Calvary. Behind him a raised area of ground falls away to reveal a sweeping Umbrian landscape.

Lo Spagna was one of Pietro Perugino’s (living 1469; died 1523) most talented associates, at a time when Perugino was the most admired and successful artist in Central Italy. Christ Carrying the Cross is a rare example of Lo Spagna’s work on a small scale in the years around the turn of the 16thth-century, the early part of his career as an independent master. He was still heavily indebted to Perugino, but his lively approach to figure and narrative reveals very directly the influence of Raphael (1483–1520), whom he must have worked alongside.

In Room 61 'Christ Carrying the Cross' will be displayed with 'Christ at Gethsemane' alongside works by artists including Michelangelo (1475–1564) and Perugino (living 1469; died 1523).

'Christ Carrying the Cross' was accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax from the Estate of The Rt Hon the Countess of Sutherland by HM Government and allocated to the National Gallery. The acceptance of the painting settled £52,500 in tax. The Acceptance in Lieu was negotiated by Sotheby’s.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says ‘The UK Acceptance in Lieu Scheme has brought two significant 16thth-century Italian pictures into the national collection in Trafalgar Square. We are grateful to HM Government for making them available to the public in perpetuity.’

Edward Harley OBE, Chairman, Acceptance in Lieu Panel said: ‘I am delighted that the Acceptance in Lieu scheme has enabled the acquisition of these two fine Italian paintings. It is fitting that 'Christ carrying the cross' by Lo Spagna is allocated to the National Gallery which holds its companion piece, 'Christ at Gethsemane'. 'Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family' is the only portrait by Veronese in the UK and one of only a handful of full-length portraits by the artist in existence.’

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said ‘This scheme exists so that important works of art and heritage objects can be owned by us all and displayed for everyone to enjoy. It is wonderful that these two exceptional works are now on display in the National Gallery where they can be seen and appreciated by visitors from across the country — and around the world — as the Gallery approaches its Bicentenary.’

Notes to editors

Images can be obtained from 

Paolo Veronese (Verona 1528 – Venice 1588)
'Portrait of a Gentleman of the Soranzo Family'
About 1585
Oil on canvas
181.5 × 111 cm
Credit line: Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax (under a hybrid arrangement) and allocated to the National Gallery with the support of the American Friends of the National Gallery, 2022
© The National Gallery, London

Lo Spagna (active 1504; died 1528)
'Christ carrying the Cross'
Perhaps 1500–5
Oil on wood
33.8 × 24.4 cm© The National Gallery, London
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax from the Estate of The Rt Hon the Countess of Sutherland and allocated to the National Gallery, 2022

Paolo Veronese

Paolo Veronese (1528 –1588) was born in Verona but moved to Venice in the early 1550s and stayed there for the rest of his life, becoming one of the leading painters of the 16thth-century.

He was trained in Verona by Antonio Badile (about 1518–1560) whose daughter he married in 1566. The roots of his style may be located in the antique architecture and sculpture of Verona but are ultimately his own synthesis of Central and Northern Italian influences.

In Venice, Titian's approach to composition, narrative, and colouring was crucial for Veronese, but his work is characterised by principles of harmony and compositional cohesion that owe as much to Raphael and the Central Italian tradition as to the Venetian. The flowing, sinuous line of Parmigianino is also an important precedent.
For most of his career, Veronese worked for patrons, religious and secular, in Venice and the Veneto. From the 1560s onwards he also produced mythological pictures for an international clientele. Veronese ran a large workshop, assisted by his brother and his sons who carried on his studio after his death.

Giovanni di Pietro (Lo Spagna)

Giovanni di Pietro (active 1504; died 1528) was a Spaniard and known as Lo Spagna in Italy (Espagna is the Italian for Spain). He worked in Perugia, Todi, Trevi and Spoleto. Several authenticated works exist. He may have been in Perugia in 1470; he was certainly there in 1504. He imitated Perugino and to a lesser extent, Raphael.

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme is administered by the Arts Council. The Acceptance in Lieu Panel, chaired by Edward Harley OBE, advises on whether property offered in lieu is of suitable importance and offered at a value which is fair to both nation and taxpayer. AIL allows those who have a bill to Inheritance Tax to pay the tax by transferring important cultural, scientific or historic objects to the nation. Material accepted under the scheme is allocated to public collections and is available for all. In the last decade this important government initiative brought £461.2m worth of treasures into public ownership for the enjoyment of all - see more here

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance and care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free.

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