The mysterious sale of Velázquez’s 'Rokeby Venus'

Date and time

Monday 5 December, 1–1.45pm

Sainsbury Wing Theatre

Barbara Pezzini


Admission free

Art Historian Barbara Pezzini has uncovered documents in the National Gallery archive which have enabled her to piece together the details of the Gallery’s acquisition of Velázquez's Rokeby Venus.

When the painting appeared for sale at art dealers Agnew’s in November 1905, many believed it should be purchased for the nation, yet the high price was beyond the National Gallery’s resources. But the newly founded National Art Collection Fund launched a public appeal to gather the sum required for its purchase. There followed three intense months in which dealers, scholars, art benefactors, museum visitors and even royalty attempted to raise the necessary funds.

Barbara Pezzini is an art historian who has published widely on the art market and its significance for the history of art, and is currently researching London art dealers Agnew’s and their relationship with the National Gallery.

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Image above: Detail from Diego Velázquez, The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus'), 1647–51