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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 19:31 GMT
Historic painting bought for the nation
Welsh Culture Minister Jenny Randerson unveils the Gainsborough painting
Culture Minister Jenny Randerson unveils the painting
The National Museum and Gallery in Cardiff has unveiled what it calls its most important acquisition for a decade - an 18th century oil painting by Thomas Gainsborough.

The painting - "Rocky Wooded Landscape with Rustic Lovers, Herdsman and Cows" - is valued in excess of 1.75m.

It was given to the National Museum in memory of its one-time owner William Berry, the 1st Viscount Camrose and founder of the Western Mail newspaper.

Detail of Gainsborough painting
The painting was owned by press baron Lord Camrose
Welsh Assembly Culture Minister Jenny Randerson approved its acquisition for the nation in lieu of inheritance tax from the executors of the 2nd Viscount Camrose.

The picture is a pastoral scene combining cattle, lovers and a golden glowing landscape, painted by Gainsborough around 1773-4.

It was given by the artist to his patron Walter Wilshire, the mayor of Bath and owner of Shockerwick Park, Bath, where it was reputedly painted.

Mathew Prichard, chairman of the National Museums and Galleries of Wales (NMGW) said: "It is possibly the most important acquisition by the NMGW for many years."

"It complements a number of other very important acquisitions like a Hogarth and a Reynolds that are here already."

Mathew Prichard
Mathew Prichard says it's an important acquisition
"I think we now have one of the finest eighteeenth century collections in Britain."

Mr Prichard said it was fitting that they should provide a home for the painting in honour of 1st Viscount Camrose, who previously owned it.

He was born William Berry in 1879 in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, where he began his career in newspapers.

With his brother Viscount Kemsley and another partner, Lord Camrose went on to own the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph and 14 regional titles including the Cardiff-based Western Mail and South Wales Echo.

"He was an excellent and genuine Welshman and it was one of the conditions when his successors died that the picture came here," said Mr Prichard.

"We're very proud to have it."

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
Admission to the museum is free
Michael Tooby, director of the National Museum and Gallery in Cardiff, said: "We are delighted that a painting of such significance has been given to the Welsh nation.

"As a result of support from the National Assembly for Wales, visitors can see this painting free of charge."

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) was famous for his society portraits like "Robert Andrews and Mary, His Wife" (1748) and "The Blue Boy" (circa 1770).

Born in Sudbury, Suffolk, he was sent to London to study with an engraver at the age of 13.

In 1746 Gainsborough married Margaret Burr, who was believed to be the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Bedford.

It was while living in Bath that Gainsborough became really popular as a portrait artist, concentrating on full-length, life-sized images.

Mathew Prichard, NMGW chairman
"We're very proud to have it"
Michael Tooby, museum director
"There's a story hidden in this landscape"
See also:

01 Apr 01 | Wales
Museums launch free entry
12 Jul 00 | Wales
Art and history go online
08 Dec 00 | Wales
Dinosaur exposed as fake
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