One of Scotland’s most iconic paintings, ‘The Monarch of the Glen’ by Sir Edward Landseer, has been saved for the nation after a public campaign raised the £4 million needed for its purchase.
The painting’s owner, drinks giant Diageo, had planned to put the painting up for auction for the first time in a century, sparking fears that it could have been taken overseas.
In an arrangement announced at the end of last year, however, the company gifted half the estimated £8 million value of the Victorian masterpiece to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) in the hope that they could raise the balance to bring the painting into public ownership for the first time.
The acquisition has been made possible due to overwhelming support from the public, from The National Lottery, Art Fund, private trusts and foundations, and Scottish Government acquisition grant funding.
The National Lottery and Scottish Government have also given funding to enable the painting to go on tour across Scotland.
Announcing the acquisition today, Sir John Leighton, NGS director general, said the organisation is “thrilled” to have secured the work for the national collection.
He said: “The enormous support from the public has been incredible with donations coming from all over the world and from the length and breadth of Scotland and the rest of the UK. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated. Your gift has helped to ensure that this magnificent work will be enjoyed by millions of people for generations to come.”
More than half of the money came from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which granted £2.65 million for the acquisition.
Dame Seona Reid, HLF trustee and chairwoman of HLF’s Scotland Committee, said the painting projects a quintessentially Scottish scene globally.
She added: “With the help of National Lottery players from across the UK, we are pleased to play a major role in securing it a permanent home at the National Galleries of Scotland.
“The public’s affection for Monarch of the Glen has been reflected in the success of the recent fund-raising campaign. Everyone involved should feel proud of the role they are playing in safeguarding and sharing this fine and popular painting.”
Dr Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said: “The success of the public appeal is proof of its contemporary appeal, and its acquisition by the Galleries will open up many new opportunities for its display, interpretation and enjoyment by a wide public. We’re very pleased to have played a part in securing this important work for Scotland.”
David Cutter, Diageo’s senior director in Scotland and president of global supply and procurement, said the company is pleased with the outcome.
He said: “We are very happy to have partnered with the National Galleries of Scotland and to see the positive outcome of that with the Monarch of the Glen passing into permanent public ownership in Scotland for the first time in its history.”
Support for the public campaign came from around the world with donations received from Anchorage, Queensland, Los Angeles and Hong Kong and from across the UK from Thurso to Bath totalling over a quarter of a million pounds. An additional £100,000 from the NGS acquisition fund from Scottish Government and donations from private trusts and foundations enabled the £4 million target to be reached.
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop praised the successful campaign, which she said underlines the painting’s importance to the Scottish people and art lovers world-wide.
She continued: “I am pleased the Scottish Government was able to provide £100,000 towards its acquisition and a further £75,000 for a tour that will enable communities across Scotland to see it. I look forward to seeing the Monarch of the Glen continue to attract visitors from far and wide in the years to come.”
The painting will initially be hung in the Scottish National Gallery and plans will be developed for a tour to a number of venues across Scotland, starting later this year.