Art Fund highlights from 2006

  • 19 December 2006

As the year ends we look back at a selection of artworks which The Art Fund supported in 2006.

Portrait of John DonneAt the beginning of 2006 The Art Fund offered its support to the National Portrait Gallery as it launched a campaign to purchase one of the most important and well-known portraits of the metaphysical poet and writer, John Donne (1572-1631). The Gallery was given six months to acquire the smouldering portrait after it was export-stopped, and The Art Fund came forward immediately with a £200,000 grant to launch the campaign. In May the National Heritage Memorial Fund put its money on the table with £750,000, and a public appeal ensured the remaining funds were raised in time for the £1.4 million portrait to be secured for the nation. Read More

Coenwulf Coin, British MuseumIn February The Art Fund helped the British Museum to acquire the most expensive British coin ever purchased. The Coenwulf Coin was discovered in 2001 by a metal detectorist near the River Ivel in Bedfordshire, and dates from the 9th-century. Of unusually high workmanship and exceptionally well preserved, the gold coin was export-stopped and awarded a starred rating, meaning that every possible effort should be made to raise the money to keep it in the country. It depicts Coenwulf King of Mercia (796-821) and is possibly the first gold currency coin in the name of an English King. Since it was purchased the magnificent coin has become one of the British Museum’s star exhibits. Read More

James Turrell Deer Shelter © Jonty WildeApril was an exciting month for The Art Fund as it unveiled one of the most important projects in its history – a permanent Skyspace at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) by the internationally renowned artist James Turrell. James Turrell Deer Shelter was the first commission for The Art Fund and its most significant gift to the nation since The Burghers of Calais by Rodin in 1911. The Skyspace opened to great critical acclaim, and resulted in a barrage of national and regional press coverage. James Turrell Deer Shelter has recently been selected as the BBC Culture Show's favourite artwork of 2006. Read More

JMW Turner, Hastings Fish MarketWith the arrival of summer came an auction triumph for Hastings Museum and Art Gallery (HMAG), as it purchased its first watercolour by JMW Turner. The Art Fund gave the Gallery a £31,806 grant towards Hastings: Fish Market on the Sands, Early Morning (1824) which was acquired at Sotheby’s in June for a hammer price of £210,000. The acquisition was a major achievement for HMAG, particularly in the light of The Art Fund Museum Survey 2006, which revealed that museums and galleries are finding it more and more difficult to purchase new works for their collections. Against this challenging backdrop HMAG managed to raise a substantial amount of money locally and won significant financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Read More

© the artist. Courtesy Jay Jopling/White Cube (London)Another gallery whose proactive attitude towards collecting was rewarded in 2006 was Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield. In July the Gallery purchased a striking piece by one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, Sam Taylor-Wood. Self Portrait Suspended VII (2004) was acquired for £21,000 with a £12,000 grant from The Art Fund. The work, which shows Taylor-Wood hanging in mid-air, apparently completely unsupported, was the second bold contemporary acquisition made by Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust with The Art Fund’s help. The Art Fund’s Director, David Barrie, commended the Trust’s proactive collecting strategy and its commitment to developing its holdings of contemporary art. Read More

Click here to find out about other artworks support by The Art Fund in 2006