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Pieter Brueghel painting stays in Britain

nationArt lovers of Britain can rejoice, and be proud of themselves too.  The 1602 painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger titled “The Procession to Calvary” will return to its place in the Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire, to remain there for the public to enjoy, instead of going into a private collection.

The acknowledged masterpiece has been hanging in the Priory for about 200 years, but the owner of what is now a magnificent family home, Lord St Oswald, put the painting up for sale last year, and it would have gone to public auction if the asking price was not met by Christmas of 2010.  The country’s art enthusiasts, both public and private, have come up with a total of £2.7 million, against all expectations and to the lasting delight of everyone involved.

A massive fund-raising drive launched by the National Trust and the Art Fund managed to raise £1.7.  That included about £680,000 from public trusts, foundations and individual members of national art associations.  Another £500,000 came from the Art Fund, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund has come up with the balance of £1,034,000, so the painting is saved for posterity.

Brueghel’s masterwork is the Flemish artist’s depiction of Christ’s walk to his death, carrying His own cross; it is a stunning, tragic and beautiful painting, and presents an incredible visual impact both to adults and to children, who become engrossed in the vivid, detailed imagery.

Nostell Priory is a National Trust property, and the paintings and other objects in its gallery date back to the 18th century.  According to the National Trust, “The Procession to Calvary” is the most important item in that collection, and all those who have helped to preserve it are deserving of sincere gratitude.  However, such an effort may be even more challenging in future, since the annual £10 million grant from Treasury funds to NHMF will be cut in half this year.

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