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The latest round of objects saved for the UK under two tax relief schemes— Acceptance In Lieu and Cultural Gifts Scheme—have been announced by Arts Council England (ACE). This year (up to 31 March 2023), works by Damien Hirst, Claude Monet and Barbara Hepworth are among 48 items worth more than £52m acquired by museums and galleries nationwide under both initiatives.
Acceptance In Lieu allows individuals who have a bill for inheritance tax or one of its earlier forms to pay the tax by transferring important cultural, scientific or historic objects and archives to the nation through allocation to public museums, archives or libraries.
Under the scheme, collectors Richard and Julia Anson allocated Head of Helen Gillespie by Frank Auerbach (1962-64) by Frank Auerbach to the National Portrait Gallery in London (the work has a tax value of £1.46m). “The painting is deeply rooted in the history of mid-century migration,” says the accompanying report.
Two works by Hepworth were allocated: River Form (1965; tax value of £2.6m), a large-scale sculpture carved in American walnut, was given to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford while Single Form (1937-38; tax value of £267,882), a rare surviving sculpture dating from the 1930s, was allocated to Tate for the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives.
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery received a key work by the Dutch 17th-century painter Jacob van Ruisdael, Panoramic Landscape with Cornfields and Dunes beside the Sea. The report outlines that the amount of tax that could have been settled by its acceptance exceeded the actual tax liability payable by the offerors.
“The offer settled £304,535 of tax and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, where it has been permanently allocated in accordance with the condition attached to its offer, made good the difference of £298,508 with the assistance of grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund of £122,628 [and] the Art Fund of £119,400 [among others],” says the report.
L’Epte à Giverny by Monet (1884), accepted from the collection of Mary Elliot-Blake, was allocated to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The most valuable item, worth £10.5m, is a miniature of an ancient Greek marble statue of Apollo (The Apollo Belvedere by Pier Jacopo Alari-Bonacolsi, around 1520) which will be housed at the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge. The bronze was owned by Cecil Lewis, a property developer, and his wife, Hilda.
The Cultural Gifts Scheme meanwhile enables UK taxpayers to donate important works of art and other heritage objects to public museums, galleries, libraries and archives to benefit the nation. In return, donors receive a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the item they donate.
Two medicine cabinets known as Frank and Lorna Dunphy as Adam and Eve by Hirst, created in 2005 for Frank Dunphy, Hirst’s late business manager, and his wife Lorna were allocated to the National Galleries of Scotland. “In this sculptural portrait, Hirst has used objects to represent the couple’s private and public interests. It contains the pills that Frank took to manage his high blood pressure, for example, alongside personal photos,” says the report which states that the cabinets have a tax value of £90,000.
Nicholas Serota, the chair of ACE, also writes that “this year, for the first time, the report features case studies which demonstrate the ways in which past acquisitions have enhanced museums and their public engagement activities. For Glynn Vivian Art Gallery [in Swansea], the pastel drawings by Josef Herman [including Dusk or Autumn, 1946, allocated in 2018] have played an important role in its work with refugees and people seeking asylum. At Shipley Art Gallery, the studio ceramics contribute to its engagement with adults recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.”
Last year, the London-based gallerist Thomas Dane and Simon Groom, director of Modern and contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, joined the Acceptance in Lieu panel.