Fitzwilliam acquires Dutch portraits in £390k tax bill deal

Image source, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption,
The portraits of the unknown boys were painted in the 1660s

Dutch Golden Age artworks of "two delightfully solemn boys" and an Italian landscape have been donated to a museum in lieu of nearly £390,000 of inheritance tax.

They are the first portraits by the 17th Century artist Adriaen van Ostade to enter a museum collection in the UK, according to the Arts Council.

The pictures came from the estate of banker George Pinto, who died in 2018.

They have been acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Image source, Cambridge University
Image caption,
The Fitzwilliam Museum is part of the University of Cambridge

Mr Pinto was a merchant banker and art collector who died aged 89 in a road accident.

His pictures were donated to the Fitzwilliam under an Arts Council-administered scheme which allows for the ownership of works of art to be transferred to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax.

Luke Syson, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, said the Cambridge University graduate "was always a generous supporter of the Fitz".

Image source, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption,
Francesco Guardi was initially a prolific painter of Venetian scenes but later turned to imaginary scenes, as above

The Adriaen van Ostade portraits of two "delightfully solemn boys" are "of a kind rarely seen in public collections", according to the museum, which owns two of his paintings and four of his drawings.

Edward Harley, chairman the Arts Council's Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said they are "the first portraits by the artist to enter a collection in the UK".

The museum said Ostade is best known as "one of the most prolific 17th Century Dutch painters of peasant scenes, taverns and village fairs".

He was active during an era known as the Dutch Golden Age, alongside artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals.

The landscape is by the 18th Century Venetian artist Francesco Guardi.

Mr Syson said: "These lively, delicate works now come to the Fitz for our public to enjoy for generations to come."

More on this story

Around the BBC