Tate wins fight for Archers
September 8, 2005 Paul Arendt, The Guardian
'Breathtaking': detail from The Archers by Joshua Reynolds.
The Tate Gallery has won its battle to keep an 18th-century masterpiece in the UK. The Archers, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, was sold to a European institution last year. However the government slapped a temporary export ban on the sale to give the Tate time to raise the necessary ?3.2m.
The London gallery managed to meet the figure through a combination of grants, donations, the Tate's own collection fund and ?500,000 raised by the gallery's own members.
The Archers is a double full-length portrait of MP Colonel John Dyke Acland and diplomat Dudley Alexander Sydney Cosby, who reportedly poisoned himself in 1774.
"It's a superb and breathtaking image," says Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota. "It was always recognised, even in Reynolds' own lifetime, as being one of his most important paintings. It's aesthetically important, not least because of the quality of Reynolds' painting."
The Archers is currently on show at Tate Britain. Serota is planning to display it at UK regional museums next year.