Conservation Heritage United Kingdom

Magna Carta, the cornerstone of English law and liberty, to be restored and displayed

Conservation of the 800-year-old charter funded through a grant from Bank of American Merrill Lynch

Only four originals and 17 copies of the Magna Carta survive

Two copies of the Magna Carta are to be restored before going on display for the first time next year in an exhibition that marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the document by King John of England at Runnymede in 1215. Funding for the treatment of the charter is coming from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which announced its latest round of conservation grants yesterday at the Society of Antiquaries in London.

Only four originals and 17 copies of the document—the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy—survive. The society has three copies: two were donated in the late 18th century and the other in the late 19th century. Its president Gill Andrews says they “are among the most important items in our collection” and that they require urgent treatment. Following the restoration, the charters will be digitised so they can be accessible online.

Andrea Sullivan, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, says the collaboration is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. “You won’t find a more important work than one that provides the foundation for democracy not just in Britain but also in the US.”

Meanwhile, the Reina Sofía in Madrid has also received a grant to research and restore Man Ray and Dalí’s collaborative portrait of a New York dealer’s wife. Portrait of Joella, 1933-34, depicts the wife of Julien Levy, a friend of Ray and a champion of Surrealism. Dalí painted the plaster bust, sculpted by Ray, for an exhibition at the gallery in 1934.

Man Ray and Dalí’s collaborative Portrait of Joella, 1933-34, depicting the wife of Julien Levy, will also be restored
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