A self-portrait of painter Sir Anthony van Dyck is to go on show on Tyneside after campaigners raised more than £10m to save it for the nation.
The work, which dates back to 1640, was offered to the National Portrait Gallery after billionaire art collector James Stunt, who is married to Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Petra, agreed to withdraw.
The work was in a private collection for almost 400 years before it was sold - forcing the Government to issue a temporary export bar which allowed campaigners time to try to save it.
A grant of £6.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund combined with donations from the public, two private trusts, the Art Fund and the gallery saved the work for the nation.
The painting will stay on display at the central London gallery until the end of August before being taken to six museums and galleries around the country, including the Laing art gallery in Newcastle for a display lasting around six months, probably in 2017.
It will also go on display in Margate, Manchester, London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
Dame Jenny Abramsky, who chairs the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This Van Dyck self-portrait is very special. It nearly left these shores forever and I’d like to congratulate the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund for their tenacity in running such a successful fundraising campaign over the past six months.
“It’s a superb painting, marking the turning point in the history of portraiture, and as such I’m proud that the Heritage Lottery Fund has been able to dig deep and make an investment of £6.3 million in order to help secure it for the nation.”
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is fantastic news. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and countless donations from individuals and groups, this wonderful picture - a masterpiece by any standards - will be enjoyed, free of charge, in the National Portrait Gallery for many generations to come.”
Van Dyck was born in modern-day Belgium and came to work in England in 1632 at the invitation of King Charles I.
His 1640-41 self-portrait – the last one Van Dyck created – presents an intimate image of the artist at work. Within a year of producing the portrait Van Dyck was dead, buried in the old St Paul’s Cathedral with the epitaph: “Anthony Van Dyck – who, while he lived, gave to many immortal life”.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “The campaign to save this remarkable painting has stirred up astonishing public support with some 10,000 individuals donating over £1.4m to the cause – making it one of the most successful appeals of the last 100 years.
“Art lovers and museum goers around the country are the real heroes of the hour, helping to unlock the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and other major donors.”