The National Galleries of Scotland have just negotiated two magnificent acquisitions. The first, Leonardo’s silverpoint “Studies of paws of a dog or wolf” (c. 1490-95) was acquired at the instigation of the director, Tim Clifford, a noted connoisseur of drawings. This exquisite study, once the possession of Sir Thomas Lawrence and bought now from the collection of the Lowland Scot, the late Norman Colville, was last shown at the 1989 Leonardo exhibition in the Hayward Gallery. Mr Colville bought two similar studies by Leonardo at the same time as he acquired the drawing now in Edinburgh. It was acquired by private treaty, negotiated through Christie’s, for £670,000 ($1,139,000), with a contribution of £100,000 from the National Art Collections Fund. The Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Richard Calvocoressi, has been building up its holdings of surrealist art, with recent acquisitions of Duchamp, Picabia and Magritte. Miró’s “Maternité” of 1924—the year of the surrealist manifesto—is one of the most important paintings in the history of the movement, acquired by André Breton, then by Roland Penrose, who did so much to raise public awareness of modern art in Britain. It was shown in “Dada and Surrealism reviewed” at the Hayward Gallery in 1978, and has been on loan to the Gallery since 1982. The purchase, again by private treaty, negotiated by the Mayor Gallery, is for an undisclosed sum, with grants of £400,000 ($680,000) from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £100,000 ($170,000) from the N.A.C.F. Further payments will be made over a three-year period.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Buying a Leonardo and Picasso on a purchase grant of just £1.65 million p.a.'