More on the Fitzwilliam acquisition
October 4 2011
Picture: Fitzwilliam Museum
I'm grateful to a reader for alerting me to two interesting facts about the Fitzwilliam's latest acquisition, Marcantonio Bassetti's Lamentation of Christ.
First, it cost the museum £225,000 (the Art Fund contributed £100,000). Second, it failed to sell at Christie's London for £150,000-£250,000 in December 2006. The picture previously sold at Christie's in New York in 2003 for $273,500.
One wonders why the Fitzwilliam didn't buy the picture in 2006. Still, it shows how dealers can help support the UK's antiquated acquisitions system. Museums can rarely raise funds in time to buy a picture at auction, so they have to hope a dealer buys it, giving them the time necessary to gather the funds. Of course, if a private collector buys the picture at auction, it's game over.
Still nothing about the acquisition on the Fitzwilliam website.