Christmas gift to the country when Peruzzi’s The Nativity is saved from export

A nativity painting dating back to the early 1500s was saved from the UK after it was acquired by the National Museum of NI.

This work, painted around 1515 by Italian painter Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi in Rome, will be shown to the public at the Ulster Museum in Belfast next year after a fundraising campaign.

The work, which depicts a nativity scene at night, is one of the few Peruzzi works to exist outside of Italy and the only one in the United Kingdom.

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Peruzzi’s Nativity (National Gallery, London/PA)

Valued at £277,990, the painting was granted an export bar by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) last year to allow a UK institution or gallery to have time go forward and buy it.

It was acquired by the NI National Museum with support from groups including the National Heritage Memorial Foundation, the Arts Foundation, and the Esme Mitchell Foundation.

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson in Whitley Bay said: “For many, participating in the Nativity play is one of the first ways we learn the story of Christmas.

“That is why I am delighted that, on this Christmas Eve, we can announce that the incredible picture of that famous event has been saved for the nation thanks to the export bar system. .

“I am pleased that, once preserved, this work will be displayed at the Ulster Museum, where it will be enjoyed by generations to come.”

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Olivia Stoddart, Peruzzi’s Nativity Restoration Conservation Fellow (National Gallery, London/PA)

Anne Stewart, senior curator of art at the NI National Museum, said: “The NI National Museum is delighted that this remarkable painting will be part of our collection, the collection. This episode was made possible thanks to the help and generosity of our partners and sponsors.

“Currently, there are no High Renaissance paintings in any public collection in Northern Ireland, so this is really a Christmas present for our audience.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Ulster Museum when it goes on display in 2023.”

Peruzzi, a painter, architect and draftsman, was born in 1481 in a small town near Siena and was a leading figure in Rome during the brief but creative High Renaissance.

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He worked alongside Raphael and Bramante before returning home to work for the Republic of Siena, building fortifications and designing a dam on the Bruna River.

Many of his artworks are frescoes and have been lost.

The Nativity is currently preserved at the National Gallery in London before moving to its permanent home in Northern Ireland in 2023. Christmas gift to the country when Peruzzi’s The Nativity is saved from export

Fry Electronics Team

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