Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Painting bought after Brexit sale risk

The Message of the Forest Image copyright The Estate of Toyen

A painting by one of the legendary figures of surrealist art has finally been bought after the effects of Brexit put the sale at risk.

The price of Message of the Forest, painted by Czech artist Toyen in 1936, kept fluctuating as a result of a weakening pound against the dollar.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art bought it from American collectors.

The cost rose from £420,000 to £486,448 after the Brexit vote.

When the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, heard the price had risen, it increased its funding from £100,000 to £150,000 so the painting could be bought.

The Walton Fund gave £266,449.

It is the first Toyen work to enter a British collection.

It went on display at the gallery in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

'Absolute knockout'

Patrick Elliott, the gallery's senior curator, told BBC Scotland he was "very thrilled" to have secured the work.

He said: "The quality is an absolute knockout so I'm very thrilled.

"It was quite a battle that started about a year ago.

"On the day of the Brexit vote all the papers were saying no exit and I saw the pound started to rise as I was keeping an eye on it.

"Then the next day it just plummeted and so the price of the painting for us with the exchange rate went from £420,000 to £460,000 and then it just kept going up and and up and up.

"I contacted Art Fund to tell them what had happened and they very generously gave us the difference to cover the extra costs because they said it would be a shame to lose it because of a fluctuating pound."

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, added: 'This haunting work is an excellent addition to the SNGMA's exceptional collection of surrealist art.

"There are no other paintings by Toyen or the Czech Surrealists in any other UK public collection, so we are very pleased to be supporting such an important acquisition, for both the museum and its visitors.

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