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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 03:16 GMT 04:16 UK
Art treasures saved for Britain
John Constable: Hampstead Heath, with Pond and Bathers,  English Heritage.
Constable painted Hampstead Heath in 1821
Works of art worth more than 21m, including paintings by Constable and Turner, have passed into public hands.

The works, which were privately owned, have been accepted by the government instead of inheritance tax.

Other items include a bronze statuette by Sir Alfred Gilbert, who also sculpted Eros in Piccadilly Circus.

The 24 works will be distributed to museums, libraries and archives in the UK, including the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate.

Pieces - including important paintings by British and Continental masters, sculpture, silver and notable archives - will also go to towns and cities including Burnley, Cambridge, Liverpool, Manchester and Oxford.

The range of material that has been saved for the nation this year reflects the enormous diversity of our cultural landscape
Mark Wood, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

The two works by Constable are Hampstead Heath, with Pond and Bathers and Study for The Cornfield which is closely related to one of the artist's most iconic works.

Turner's The Chain Bridge over the River Tees has long been hailed as one of his finest watercolours.

Arts Minister Estelle Morris the national scheme which enables owners to offer items to the nation instead of paying Inheritance Tax had saved works for the nation that may have been under threat of removal or sale abroad.

"The government's Acceptance in Lieu Scheme continues to be a huge success, saving important works of art and other culturally important items for the nation," said Ms Morris.

Thesiger during the second crossing of the Empty Quarter, Oman 1948,  Pitt Rivers Museum.
Thesiger's photographs have been hailed for their cultural importance

"The things we are saving today range from an exquisite study by John Constable, through to a glorious stretch of historic landscape in Wentworth.

"Large or small, each will now be available for everyone to enjoy for all time."

Mark Wood, chair of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), which advises the Government on which items should be accepted under the AIL scheme, said it was a "satisfying and successful" part of their work.

He said: "The range of material that has been saved for the nation this year reflects the enormous diversity of our cultural landscape.

"The photographic archive of Sir Wilfred Thesiger, for example, could hardly be more relevant to contemporary issues.

"He lived with the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq between 1951 and 1958, and his beautiful images are an important tool in our appreciation and understanding of a civilization that we see all too often only in terms of conflict and through the lens of the war correspondent."

Art treasures put in public hands
19 Feb 02  |  Entertainment

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