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The first preparatory sketch made by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) for his magnificent scheme of ceiling paintings in the Banqueting House, Whitehall, has been saved, thanks to the last-minute intervention of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Tate Members and The Art Fund, all of whom increased their original pledges on the day of the final deadline, 30 September 2008.
The vendor of The Apotheosis of James I and other studies: sketch for the ceiling of the Banqueting House, Whitehall 1628-30, whose family has owned the work for over two centuries, also generously agreed to waive £300,000 from the asking price of £6M and accept £5.7M net of tax. The work was valued at £11.5M.
The fundraising campaign was launched by Tate in March 2008 working in close partnership with The Art Fund, which granted £500,000 and later an additional £100,000 to help bridge the end gap.
Read the full press release HERE
Rubens has always been recognised as one of the greatest painters in Western art and his ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House, Whitehall are the most important artistic commission of the period in Britain. The Apotheosis of James I and other studies is Rubens's very first surviving sketch for the project, and gives a crucial insight into the artist's earliest ideas for the design. No other sketch for the overall composition of the ceiling exists, making this a unique treasure in the history of British art.
The Banqueting House was designed by Inigo Jones and constructed between 1619 and 1622. Rubens was in London from 1629 to 1630 acting as a diplomat working for peace between Spain and England. During his time here the commission to paint the ceiling was confirmed. This initial oil sketch was probably painted in London and shown to King Charles I, James I’s son, for approval. The final nine canvases were painted in his Antwerp studio and installed around mid-March 1636.