News item from 2012


The Heritage Lottery Fund Gives Lead Support To The Ashmolean's Campaign To Save Manet's Portrait Of Mademoiselle Claus

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced its lead support of the Ashmolean Museum’s campaign to save Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, 1868, for the public with a major grant of £5.9 million. Since launching the campaign in February, the Ashmolean has also been awarded a significant grant from The Art Fund of £750,000, along with £200,000 of gifts from individuals and The Friends of the Ashmolean.

The painting has been sold to a foreign buyer for £28.35 million but, under a private treaty sale, with tax remission it can be purchased by an approved UK public collection at the greatly reduced price of £7.83 million. The Ashmolean has until 7 August 2012, before the export bar ends, to raise the remaining £980,000 to acquire the painting. The portrait is a preparatory study for Le Balcon (1868–9) now in the Musée d’Orsay - one of the key images of the Impressionist movement. Having previously been exhibited only once since it was painted, it is currently on display in the Museum’s Impressionist Gallery.

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said, “This study of a young woman in repose is extraordinary: luminous, beautiful, a real masterclass in brushstroke technique. The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to be playing a significant role in helping the Ashmolean secure Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, particularly as it is unlikely that a work of this calibre will become available again at such a competitive price. We hope the Museum succeeds in its campaign to keep the painting in this country and look forward to seeing it used to help more people learn about the Impressionist movement.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said, “Manet’s Mlle Claus is a beautiful, beguiling and exceptionally important painting: it really must remain in this country and on public view. So we’re delighted to be supporting the Ashmolean Museum’s public appeal with a major Art Fund grant – indeed one of our largest ever – and would urge other individuals and institutions to follow suit if they possibly can.”

Manet was one of the greatest painters of the 19th century and his influence on the art world continues today. John Singer Sargent, who bought Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus at Manet's studio sale in 1884, was described as a disciple of Manet, and without his example, Sargent’s portraits would have been very different. From the 1880s until World War I, most progressive portrait painters were strongly influenced by Manet's work: Wilson Steer, Walter Sickert, Henry Tonks, Sir John Lavery, Sir William Orpen. Roger Fry's exhibition of 'Manet and the Post-Impressionists' (1911) firmly established Manet's reputation as the painter of modern life. Fry emphasised the purely pictorial qualities of Manet's art, but the social and psychological aspects were equally important to later artists such as Stanley Spencer and Lucian Freud.

Artist, Jenny Saville, said, “Manet is one of those Greats, like Leonardo, Rubens, Picasso, and latterly Freud, whose work is a reference point to which you continually refer or have in the back of your mind, when painting. For me, it is his ability to capture the spirit behind the face and his radiant use of paint, as mostly demonstrated with the colour white, that has had such an effect on my figurative work.“

The Ashmolean is the country’s most visited museum outside London, with over 1 million people visiting per year. If acquired by the Museum, Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus will be the focus of a broad range of public events and activities, as well as a special touring exhibition to museums across the UK, attracting a greater and more diverse audience to see the painting and to learn more about its wider cultural and historical significance.

Dr Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean, said, “We are extremely grateful to the HLF for their lead support and to The Art Fund and individual donors for their generosity. We are delighted with the remarkable amount of public support, which the campaign has received so far. Since it has been on display, we have organised a series of workshops with schools, curator-led talks and lectures, which have been most popular with all age groups. This has helped us to develop a number of exciting plans for the future that include touring the painting and placing it at the heart of our learning programme. If you have not already seen it I urge you to do so. This is a unique opportunity for a British museum to acquire this important work. If we are successful, it will transform the Ashmolean’s holdings of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, making Oxford one of the leading centres for the study of 19th-century French painting, for students, scholars and the wider public.”

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “The Ashmolean is now tantalisingly close to being able to acquire this exceptional painting thanks to the generosity of the many people who have contributed directly, or through the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Art Fund. The Museum has also been able to take advantage of tax breaks that will help them buy the painting at a greatly reduced price. I would like to offer my wholehearted support for the public appeal; if anyone is in a position to contribute, they will be helping to enrich the lives of visitors to the Ashmolean for countless generations to come.”

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.9billion across the UK.

The Art Fund
The Art Fund is the national charity which helps museums and galleries to buy, show and share art for the enjoyment of all. Over the past five years, the Art Fund has given over £24 million towards art of all kinds, from Old Masters to new media, and supported a range of programmes which share and show art to wider audiences, including the national tour of ARTIST ROOMS, the Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries, and Art Guide, a pioneering smartphone app offering the most comprehensive guide to seeing art in the UK. The Art Fund is independently funded and the majority of its income comes from 90,000 supporters who purchase a National Art Pass, costing from £50, which gives free entry to over 200 museums, galleries and historic houses across the country as well as 50% off many major exhibitions. Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass at

Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus
Oil on canvas, 111 x 70 cm
Provenance: Manet’s studio sale, 4-5 February 1884, lot 19, bought by John Singer Sargent; and by descent in the family of his sister
Exhibited: Manet at Work, National Gallery, London, 1983, no. 11
The portrait is a preparatory study for Le Balcon (1868–9) now in the Musée d’Orsay - one of the key images of the Impressionist movement. Initially inspired by the sight of people on a balcony, during a summer spent in Boulogne-sur-Mer with his family in 1868, Le Balcon famously draws on Goya’s Majas on a Balcony painted around 1810. It is also an important example of Manet’s work from the late 1860s onwards when he began to focus his attention on his family and close friends. The portrait’s subject is Fanny Claus (1846–77), the closest friend of Manet’s wife Suzanne Leenhoff. A concert violinist and member of the first all-women string quartet, Fanny was one of Manet’s favourite sitters and a member of a close-knit group of friends who also provided the artist with models. She married the artist Pierre Prins (1838–1913), another friend of Manet’s, in 1869, but died of tuberculosis just eight years later at the age of 30.
For more information about the Ashmolean’s campaign visit  

The Export Bar
On the 8 December 2011the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed an export bar on Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus. The ruling follows the recommendation of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by Arts Council England. The Committee has recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the portrait was of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of French painting of the second half of the nineteenth century and in particular the work of Manet, one of the leading Impressionist painters of the period. For more information visit

Private Treaty Sales
Items which have been granted conditional exemption from capital taxation (Inheritance Tax (“IHT”), Estate Duty (ED) or Capital Gains Tax (“CGT”) can be purchased by private treaty by a body listed in Schedule 3 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984: (which includes most public museums, galleries and archives in the United Kingdom) at a price which is beneficial to the public purchaser. For more information visit: Such a sale will not give rise to a charge to IHT, ED or CGT. In this case, as the principle is that the owner should not be financially disadvantaged by the Export Control procedures, all of the benefit will apply to the Schedule 3 purchaser. HM Revenue & Customs will forgo all of the tax that would be payable if the painting is sold abroad.

Modern Art Oxford will present a major exhibition by Jenny Saville, 23 June - 16 September 2012, the first solo exhibition of her work in a UK public gallery.

European art at the Ashmolean
The Ashmolean’s collections include European paintings, sculpture and applied arts, and one of the finest collections of drawings and prints in the world. Highlights include well-known masterpieces such as Paolo Uccello's Hunt in the Forest and Claude Lorrain's Ascanius shooting the Stag of Sylvia are on view in the galleries. There are important displays of Renaissance Italian art, Flemish and Dutch 17th-century paintings (including the Daisy Linda Ward Collection of still-life paintings), the Pre-Raphaelites (mainly from the Combe Bequest of 1895) and the work of Camille Pissarro and his family (thanks to several gifts from the Pissarro family). The Ashmolean holds the following works by Manet: two beautiful unfinished oils, A Garden Urn and A Basket of Pears, both formerly owned by the German Impressionist, Max Liebermann; as well as an early landscape, a watercolour of one of Manet’s most famous compositions, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, and a number of other drawings.


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