Campaign success: Poussin's Extreme Unction secured

The fundraising appeal to help the Fitzwilliam Museum acquire Poussin's 'greatest' painting has succeeded, thanks to a substantial Heritage Lottery Fund grant and major public support.

Extreme Unction, by the 17th-century French master Nicolas Poussin, is a painting of exceptional artistic, historical and cultural importance. Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, said that Poussin 'painted nothing greater than this picture'.

Now, thanks to the success of our £3.9 million fundraising campaign with the Fitzwilliam Museum, the masterpiece has been secured for the national collection. Following almost £1 million in donations from the public and charities, including a £100,000 grant from the Art Fund and contributions from almost 3,000 of our members which brought in £142,000, a substantial grant of over £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the acquisition and planned outreach work has ensured the campaign’s success.

Extreme Unction

  • Commissioned by Poussin's friend Cassiano dal Pozzo
  • Final painting in Poussin's Seven Sacrements series
  • Classically inspired costumes and setting influenced Western artists

"Once again I have been delighted by the generosity of the public and, in particular, of Art Fund members," said Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund. "We applaud the HLF’s immense commitment to the campaign and the support of Nicholas Penny and the National Gallery through a special display of the work in London."

The museum had the unique opportunity to acquire the painting for £3.9 million, a fraction of its market value of £14 million, thanks to the government's Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme. It will remain on show at the National Gallery in London until Sunday 11 November then travel back to the Fitzwilliam Museum where it will be on display from early December.

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