A 18th century portrait of the 5th Earl of Carlisle by Sir Joshua Reynolds is to be relocated to Tate Britain.
The art piece, which is currently residing in Castle Howard, a lavish and magnificently grand home in North Yorkshire, has been accepted for the nation in lieu of £4.7 million inheritance tax.
Allocated to Tate Britain, the full-length portrait carefully depicts the lavishly dressed aristocrat and is the first full-length male portrait by Reynolds to join the art gallery’s collection.
For over 200 years the artwork hung in Castle Howard, a stately home that was made famous as the backdrop for Brideshead Revisited, a novel turned TV series by Evelyn Waugh.
Earlier this month, Arts Council England stated that it had been accepted into public ownership in lieu of tax liability.
In 1758 at the tender age of ten, Frederick Howard was appointed as the 5th Earl of Carlisle following the death of his father.
The piece was painted in 1769 when the aristocrat had just returned from a tour of Europe, dressed in formal clothing and posed amongst classical architecture. It is believed that the portrait shows his formal entry into society and his high position as head of one of England's most prestigious and powerful families.
For such an important art piece, Sir Reynolds was appointed as he was known at the time as the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts and the leading British portrait painter of 18th century.
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, commented: “A glamorous portrait in oil of the earl and his beloved dog Rover, it is an outstanding example of the type of painting for which Reynolds is most highly acclaimed.
“I am delighted that this work will now enter the national collection, the greatest collection of British art in the world.”
The painting will at some point be displayed at the Tate gallery but will initially remain in its original setting.
To help secure the long-term future of Castle Howard’s estate, last year the castle put a number of artworks and furniture on sale, raising a total of £12 million.
The portrait that has previously been passed down through the Howard family, was offered to the acceptance in lieu scheme (AIL) following the sale.
Chairman of the AIL panel, Edward Harley, said: “The acceptance in lieu scheme has been enriching our heritage for over a century; I am delighted that this masterpiece by Reynolds, one of the most important painters of the day, has entered our national collection under the scheme.”
Created in David Lloyd George’s people’s budget of 1910, the AIL scheme allows outstanding objects and collections to be given away as a way of settling tax bills.