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Australian Museum Acquires Major Old Master Painting

Last month, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, unveiled its recent acquisition of a major work, Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, by Correggio (Antonio Allegri).

MELBOURNE—Last month, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, unveiled its recent acquisition of a major work, Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, by Correggio (Antonio Allegri).

The ca. 1514-15 work was acquired at Sotheby’s London Old Master sale in early July for £3.6 million ($5.8 million), marking the museum’s most expensive acquisition in its 150-year history. An undisclosed but major portion of the funds was supplied by Andrew Sisson, who founded the Melbourne-based Balanced Equity Management in 1988. In June, Sisson, a trustee of the NGV, sold the company to the U.S. firm Franklin Templeton for $30 million. Sisson, who is not a major art collector, told ARTnewsletter he understood the historical significance of the newly discovered work and was taken with the humanity of the painting. According to Sisson, the work made him “weak at the knees.”

London dealer Angela Nevill, acting as agent for the National Gallery, outbid New York dealer Otto Naumann to secure the small (45-by-38 cm) oil on panel at the high end of the £2 million/3 million estimate.

Gerard Vaughan, director of the NGV, said for many years the museum had sought an Italian High Renaissance work for its collection. Correggio was “one of the key artists whose work defines the High Renaissance,” he said. The oil on panel was “an incomparable masterpiece with no other similar work in the NGV collection, or any other public collection in Australia. The virtues of the present work are not fully apparent as the work requires conservation, to which it shortly will be headed,” he said.

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