Christ Between Saint Paul and Saint Peter, a 14th-century painting by Pietro Lorenzetti, has been bought for Ferens Art Gallery with help from the Art Fund.
Pietro Lorenzetti, Christ Between Saints Peter and Paul, c.1320
© Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums. Photo: The National Gallery, London
Created around 1320, the work is the oldest piece in the gallery's collection, and is remarkably naturalistic for a 14th-century painting. Probably part of a larger altarpiece, the panel is painted in tempera on a gold background, and is Lorenzetti's only fully autographed work in UK collections.
The work will undergo a year of conservation at the National Gallery as part of the gallery's ongoing commitment to support regional museums. The conservation will include structural stabilisation, cleaning and restoration, after which it will go on permanent display at the Ferens Art Gallery.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: 'This is a very exciting moment not just for the Ferens and for Hull but for the wider British public too. As the only fully autograph work by Lorenzetti in the UK, it’s a hugely significant acquisition. Even in the midst of funding pressures and cutbacks, the Ferens and its supporters have pulled off a great coup.'
The painting was virtually unknown until 2012, and is thought to have entered a private collection in the 19th century. Its high quality saw it placed under a temporary export bar by the culture secretary to prevent it leaving the country, and it was bought at auction at Christie's last year. The total amount paid was £1,612,940, including a £200,000 Art Fund grant and £758,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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Ferens Art Gallery closed in August 2015 for major refurbishment works. It will re-open early in 2017.