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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Museum unveils Van Dyck painting
Van Dyck's portrait of Sir Basil Dixwell
The painting had been in American hands since the 1960s
A major work by 17th Century artist Sir Anthony Van Dyck is to go on display in Canterbury after being acquired by the city council.

The painting is a portrait of a local man, Sir Basil Dixwell, the builder of Broome Park, a house on the outskirts of the Canterbury.

It will go on show at the city's Royal Museum and Art Gallery from Thursday.

The portrait cost 950,000, with more than 800,000 coming from National Lottery funding.

Van Dyck was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1599 but worked for some time in England and was appointed "Principalle paynter in ordinary to their majesties" by King Charles I in 1632.

It would have been very sad to see this fine painting lost overseas again
Stephen Johnson, National Heritage Memorial Fund

He is thought to have painted Sir Basil, who was a Member of Parliament, Sheriff of Kent and a wealthy landowner, in about 1638.

The painting was discovered in London last year by Canterbury City Council's museum curator Ken Reedie.

It was being offered for sale by a dealer specialising in Old Masters, having been in the US since the 1960s.

The dealer had originally been asking 1.2m for the portrait, but managed to negotiate the price down to 950,000.

'Important purchase'

The council put in bids to the lottery and other arts funding bodies.

The lottery's National Heritage Memorial Fund gave 825,000, while the council also received 80,000 from The National Art Collections Fund, an art charity.

The council has paid 35,000 from its museum purchase fund, with the Friends of the Museums organisation in the process of raising the final 10,000.

Council leader Alex Perkins said: "The city council is keen to develop its art gallery collection, and national grants like this show what is possible.

"I am especially delighted that we have been able to make this important purchase without local taxpayers having to pay towards it from council tax."

Stephen Johnson, director of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: "With such strong links to the South East's history, it would have been very sad to see this fine painting lost overseas again."

Van Dyck original stays in UK
18 Dec 02  |  England
1m portrait saved for nation
16 Jul 02  |  Entertainment

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