National Museum Wales acquires 'tax payment' painting
An 18th Century painting of Venice's Grand Canal has been acquired for Wales after it was offered instead of paying inheritance tax.
The small oil by Francesco Guardi will join others of Venice on show in the National Museum Wales in Cardiff later in the year.
The former owner's name and the value of the painting have not been revealed.
But its value was more than the tax owed, so the museum paid £85,000, including a £20,000 charity donation.
The transfer of View of the Palazzo Loredan dell'Ambasciatore on the Grand Canal, Venice, was completed in July after a process taking 18 months.
The painting is to undergo minor cleaning before joining the museum's 18th Century collections on display in a recently refurbished gallery in November.
Until now the museum has possessed only one work by Venetian artist Francesco Guardi (1712-1793): a portrait, A Young Girl of the Gradenigo Family with Dove.
Guardi's Venetian views are regarded as highly significant in the history of landscape painting.
The newly-acquired work shows Venice's 15th Century Palazzo Loredan, which had become a residence for the ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire in 1752.
Oliver Fairclough, keeper of art at National Museum Wales, said the painting was the only known view of the Venetian palazzo by Guardi and relatively unusual as a work that would seem to represent a specific commission.
"Despite its small scale, this exceptional and well-preserved panel is an excellent example of Guardi's mature work on an intimate scale.
"It demonstrates a combination of the topographical precision and his increasingly expressive brushwork and portrayal of light.
"It also represents a development in the historical evolution of landscape art by capturing the momentary, almost 'impressionist' effects of light," Mr Fairclough added.
The Guardi work will join other depictions of Venice by artists, including by fellow Venetian Canaletto, and Monet, Sickert and Whistler.
It was accepted under a scheme which enables taxpayers to transfer works of art, archives and manuscripts, and important heritage objects into public ownership in whole or part settlement of inheritance tax.
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "The minister for heritage agreed to accept the painting in lieu of inheritance tax as it is an outstanding example of the work of one of the most important Italian artists of the 18th Century.
"The allocation to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales was considered appropriate and an important acquisition for the museum as it supplements several other depictions of Venice, by artists such as Canaletto and Monet, held by the museum.
The painting was secured with a £20,000 donation from the charity the Art Fund, which has donated more than £1.2m over the last decade to help the museum acquire work by celebrated artists.