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News | Published: Thu 1 Nov 2012

ImageFitzwilliam succeeds in saving Poussin masterpiece for the nation

We are delighted to report that the campaign by the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Art Fund to raise £3.9m to enable the Museum to acquire Nicolas Poussin’s masterpiece Extreme Unction (c. 1638-40) reached a successful conclusion with the help of a substantial grant of approximately £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and almost £1 million in donations from members of the public and charitable organisations.

We are extremely grateful to the charities and thousands of individual donors who have contributed. Supporters of the Fitzwilliam Museum gave a total of £692,000 including significant funds from Friends of the Fitzwilliam. As well as providing a grant of £100,000, the Art Fund also raised funds through contributions from nearly 3,000 members, bringing in approximately £142,000. The Museum is thankful for the support of a number of other trusts and foundations.

These hugely generous donations and grants mean that the Fitzwilliam Museum was able to take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity provided by HM Government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme to acquire the painting for £3.9m instead of its market value of £14m. For the Museum, this is the most significant Old Master acquisition in nearly a century. Now it will be available for all to see, free of charge, in perpetuity.

We have received resounding support throughout the campaign, not least that of the National Gallery where it was put on display for the majority of the campaign in Autumn 2012. Their support proved to be invaluable.

The painting has been on display in the Octagon Gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum from 7 December 2012 to 6 May 2013. It will be available to view again this July in a special temporary display in Gallery 7 (Italian Art of the 16th - 18th century) where it will be joined by three other paintings from the series: Eucharist, Confirmation and Marriage; kindly lent to us by His Grace the Duke of Rutland.