Fitzwilliam Museum and Art Fund secure Nicholas Poussin masterpiece

The Fitzwilliam Museum and the Art Fund have successfully hit the £3.9 million target needed to purchase Nicholas Poussin’s masterpiece Extreme Unction (1638-40).
It took a significant grant of £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the painting, which both the museum and the Art Fund had described as a national treasure.
The painting was owned by the 11th Duke of Rutland’s 2000 settlement and there was genuine concern that it would be permanently transported out of the country.
However, with the generous gift from the HLF and almost £1 million in donations from members of the public and charitable organisations, there will be no need to call in an art removal company.
Dr Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “Thank you to all those who made this possible – including Nicholas Penny and the National Gallery for supporting the appeal through a special display of the work in London. Above all, many congratulations to the Fitzwilliam Museum for securing this most important acquisition for the nation.”
The museum has revealed that with the painting now forming a permanent part of its collection, it is planning on making sure this investment contributes to the cultural landscape in the UK.
One proposal is for a touring exhibition of the painting, which depicts the final sacrament (anointing of the sick); allowing people to see the painting in different collections across the country.
Additionally, within the confines of the grant, the museum will have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the landmark painting. £79,250 has been directly allocated to this area, which will include the development of digital resources to assist academics in their investigations.
“Extreme Unction is an extraordinarily moving and beautiful Old Master which has influenced generations of artists,” commented Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the HLF.
“However, it’s not just about aesthetics and we were impressed with the Fitzwilliam and Art Fund’s dynamic fundraising campaign and their desire to seize the moment and secure the painting on behalf of the nation.”