Tate announced today that it has acquired Joshua Reynolds’ Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney: The Archers. The work was saved from going abroad through recent donations by Sir Harry Djanogly and an anonymous donor. Additional funding was allocated for the first time from Tate’s newly-formed Collection Fund, launched last year as part of the gallery’s major collection initiative Building the Tate Collection. The National Heritage Memorial Fund made a generous grant of £1.6m towards the campaign, Tate Members gave £500,000 and The National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund) awarded a grant of £400,000.
The export of The Archers to a European institution was held up earlier this year by the Government on the recommendation of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, run by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to advise Ministers on works of major national importance. The painting was given a special starred rating by the Committee, indicating that every possible effort should be made to raise matching funds keep it in the country. In July, the export stop was extended by David Lammy, Minister for Culture, until today and Tate is delighted to have raised the funds for the work in order to save it for the nation.
The Archers is a double full-length portrait of Colonel John Dyke Acland (1746 -1778) and Dudley Alexander Sydney Cosby (1732-1774). Acland was an MP, while Cosby was a diplomat who reportedly committed suicide by ‘a dose of Danish poison’ in 1774. The men are in the act of releasing arrows from their bows, in a dramatic composition which links the picture with great mythological hunting scenes such as those painted by Titian. Acland and Sydney appear to be dashing through a forest as if taking part in a medieval or Renaissance hunt: they are wearing quasi-historical dress, and leave in their wake a trail of dead deer and game. The Archers is one of the major works in the exhibition Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity which continues to 18 September at Tate Britain.
Tate Director Nicholas Serota said:
This is a fine addition to the Tate Collection. We are enormously grateful to the NHMF, the Art Fund and Tate Members for their generosity, as well as Sir Harry Djanogly and an anonymous donor. The Archers is an example of an outstanding British work. It is fitting that it should be the first work to be allocated funding as part of the Building the Tate Collection campaign.
Stephen Johnson, Head of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said:
This painting makes a striking addition to the Tate Collection and like the other 1,200 iconic pieces of our heritage that we have helped to save, it would have been a huge loss if it had left these shores for good. The NHMF was set-up to honour those who gave their lives in war for this country, so in the year that we celebrate our Silver Jubilee and the nation commemorates the end of WWII, this seems a particularly appropriate time to save such an important painting.
David Barrie, Director of the National Art Collections Fund, said:
This is a really intriguing and unusual painting and we just had to support it. We started the ball rolling with an initial pledge of £400,000, and it’s very good news that Tate has been successful in securing the balance of the funding for this magnificent portrait.