The National Portrait Gallery has announced a partnership with LA’s Getty Museum to jointly acquire Portrait of Omai, a £50m oil painting currently in private ownership.
Prior to today’s announcement, the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) had been attempting to raise the total £50m itself in order to bring the painting into the UK’s national collection.
Earlier this month, NPG said it had raised around £24m, aided by an extended export bar and capital from Art Fund and its members, The National Heritage Memorial Fund and donations from trusts, foundations and individuals.
Extended export bar aids National Portrait Gallery’s £50m acquisition aim
The new partnership will see Getty Museum provide £25m, leaving NPG with under £1m to meet its half of the deal as it continues to fundraise.
The announcement follows long-term discussion and planning by the partners, who now intend to share the work for public exhibition, research, and conservation care.
If NPG is successful in its final fundraising efforts it will enter into a joint ownership agreement with Getty, and the painting will then travel periodically between the UK and US, sharing time equally between them.
It will be displayed at NPG in June when it reopens, and will be displayed at theGetty Museum when Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympic Games.
NPG and Getty have previously worked together on the publication of the National Portrait Gallery’s Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue, which began in 2003, and a current project on the Gallery’s Lucian Freud Archive, both funded by the Getty Foundation.
The painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds – a full-length, life-size painting from the 18th century which depicts one of the earliest Polynesian visitors to England, who arrived in England with Captain Cook in 1774 – has always been in private ownership, and has not been on public display in the UK since 2005.
Image: Installation view of Portrait of Mai (Omai), Sir Joshua Reynolds c 1776. Oil on canvas; 236 x 145.5cm. Image courtesy of the owner.