Guercino acquired by the Nation
March 7 2012
Guercino's Samian Sybil has been accepted by the UK government in lieu of inheritance tax. The picture was first commissioned by Giuseppe Locatelli, and has been in the Spencer Collection at Althorp. The picture's original pendant, the Cumaean Sibyl, is at the National Gallery. Presumably, the Samian Sibyl will now be allocated to the National permanently.
No value has been released for the Guercino, but it must have been many millions. So thanks HMG for foregoing a whole heap of tax, and thanks also to David Lloyd George for coming up with the acceptance-in-lieu scheme in 1910 (even if inheritance tax itself is horrid).
Update: a reader has sent me this link to the recent sale at Christie's of Guercino's King David, also formerly of the Spencer Collection, which sets out the history of the set.
Another reader adds:
The amount of tax settled by the Guercino is 3.2 million pounds. As I imagine the work would have been subject to the same 40% tax hit as all the other Spencer items sold in 2010, (including the King David and the Rubens), the value of the Samian Sybil has been determined to be the same as the King David, (which sold for at auction for 5.2 million pounds).