A painting proclaimed as ‘one of the most important paintings of the 19th century’ by Professor Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, is to go on display at the Barber this autumn.
Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, painted in 1868, was acquired by the Ashmolean in August last year after a campaign to raise nearly £8 million. The landmark oil painting had been purchased by a foreign buyer in 2011 for more than £28 million, and was due to leave the country until Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, placed a temporary export bar on the work, judged to be of outstanding cultural importance. Offered to the Ashmolean for 27% of its market value by the Government’s reviewing committee, the picture is touring public museums and galleries nationwide this year under the terms of the acquisition agreement.
Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus was originally owned by the artist John Singer Sargent, and is the first version of Le Balcon, 1868-9, now in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris – one of the key images of the Impressionist movement. Inspired by the sight of people on a balcony during a family summer vacation in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1868, and drawing on Goya’s Majas on a Balcony, Manet’s subject is Fanny Claus, a concert violinist and closest friend of Manet’s wife, Suzanne Leerhoff. The painting will hang in the Blue Gallery from 9 September to 21 October – next to Manet’s Portrait of Carolus Duran, returning this September following its loan to the National Gallery, London, for the exhibition Birth of a Collection: Masterpieces from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.