A public campaign was launched to purchase the painting with just three months to raise the money.

The Art Fund acted as a catalyst to attract funds from private and public sources including £50,000 from Sir Denis Mahon made through the Art Fund in memory of the late Lord Crawford's lifelong work for the museums of this country. Sir Denis' offer constituted a challenge to the Treasury: it was conditional upon a matching grant from the Exchequer. This insistence unlocked special Government grants of £72,000 and the balance required was finally raised within the allotted time. This work was painted as a small altarpiece, no doubt intended for a private chapel or oratory. The subtle illusionism in the painting, together with the picture's warm atmospheric colour, is characteristic of the more famous San Zaccaria altarpiece, and anticipates the work of Bellini's two great pupils, Giorglone and Titian. Before the acquisition there was nothing comparable in an English public collection portraying the new humanism of the HIgh Renaissance.


Muselli brothers, Verona 1648. Serehi family, Verona 1718. J.Purling, 1801. D.Turner, 1814. 4th Earl of Ashburnham,1878; by descent to 5th Earl of Ashburnham; V.J.Watney, Cornbury Park,1899; On loan to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, from 1967.

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