Iconic Stubbs paintings saved for Greenwich

Paintings of a kangaroo and a dingo by pre-eminent animal painter George Stubbs have been saved for the National Maritime Museum with help from the Art Fund.

Stubbs created the two works – The Konguoro from New Holland and Portrait of a Large Dog – in 1772, after Captain James Cook brought back the skins of a kangaroo and a dingo from his 'voyage of discovery' to Australasia. The skins were used as a model for Stubbs's paintings, which were the first depictions of the animals in western art.

The works were first exhibited in London in 1773 and have stayed in the UK ever since. They were privately owned until late 2012, when they were sold to a private buyer outside the UK. The artistic and historical significance of the works led them to be placed under an export bar in January 2013, when the National Maritime Museum launched an appeal to raise the funds to keep the works in the country.

Funding from the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Monument Trust and the public, together with a £1.5 million donation from shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, has secured the paintings for the National Maritime Museum's permanent collection. The works will go on display in the museum's historic Queen's House from summer 2014 as part of a new display of works on the theme of exploration, and will be central to the museum's commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Cook's voyage in 2018.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: 'Helping secure great works of art for public collections is why the Art Fund was founded over 110 years ago so we're thrilled to have played a part in making this great acquisition happen. We're also proud to be supporting the interpretation project that will accompany their display at Greenwich and beyond, illuminating the adventures of Captain James Cook, a key figure in the nation’s history.

'Thanks to the generosity of the art-loving public, the collective support of the HLF and other funding bodies and the Eyal Ofer Family Foundation, these important works by George Stubbs are here to stay.'

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