Enhancing the national collection is one of our key objectives and acquiring new artworks enriches the story of European art told through our pictures. In 2020 we acquired four works from the estate of George Pinto through the Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme.
George Pinto (1929–2018), who made his name as a merchant banker, was an art lover and patron of the National Gallery. At his homes in Knightsbridge and Kent he kept a select collection of paintings including Jean-Etienne Liotard’s masterpiece, The Lavergne Family Breakfast (1754), which had been bought by his grandfather. This was acquired for the national collection, together with Thomas Gainsborough’s Portrait of Margaret Gainsborough holding a Theorbo (about 1777), Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Portrait of the Hon. Peniston Lamb (about 1790) and Isaack Luttichuys’s Portrait of a Girl (about 1650).
Liotard’s portrait, his largest and most ambitious pastel, became the second work by the artist to enter the collection, while the pictures by Gainsborough and Lawrence built on the Gallery’s existing holdings of works by the British painters.
Gainsborough’s intimate image is a remarkable example of the artist’s late portraiture; in contrast, Lawrence's informal and arresting portrait is a fine example from the start of his career. Luttichuys’s ‘Portrait of a Girl’ is the first work by the artist to enter a British public collection. A prime example of the trend towards a brighter palette, the work documents an important moment in mid-17th-century Dutch painting and greatly enhances the Gallery’s collection of Dutch portraits.
We are very grateful to the family of George Pinto for making these acquisitions possible.