Freed slave portrait saved from export

William Hoare's painting of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo The work is believed to be the earliest British oil portrait of a freed slave

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The first British portrait of a freed slave, which faced being lost to the nation, will remain in the UK for the next five years.

William Hoare's painting of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, also known as Job ben Solomon, was purchased by the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) in 2009.

The government imposed a temporary export bar last year because of its historic importance to the UK.

Money was raised to buy the work back, but the QMA agreed to lend it instead.

Donations raised by the National Portrait Gallery will now be returned, as will grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund charity.

The painting is believed to be the earliest known British oil portrait of a freed slave which honours a named African subject and Muslim as an individual and equal.

The QMA will support a programme of conservation and research on the work, which will tour the UK and visit Doha in 2013.

"This is a good example of international cooperation between museums," said the National Portrait Gallery's director, Sandy Nairne.

He said the portrait would "shed new light on cultural and intellectual exchanges in the first half of the 18th Century".

Meanwhile, the National Gallery in London has received a donation of £2 million from the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation.

A room in the gallery will be named The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Room in recognition of the gift, which will go towards refurbishing gallery spaces.

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