£4m drive to save Monarch of Glen for nation

National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) said it has entered into a partnership agreement with Scotch whisky giant Diageo with the aim of securing The Monarch of the Glen painting by Sir Edwin Landseer for permanent public display in Scotland.

Diageo had planned to put the iconic 1852 painting up for auction — where it was expected to fetch up to £8 million — but that plan was met with public outcry.

Under the new arrangement, Diageo has agreed to gift half the estimated market value of the painting to allow NGS the opportunity to acquire the work.

NGS will now start a fundraising campaign to raise £4 million to bring the painting into its collection and allow the iconic work to pass from private to public hands for the first time in its history.

John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “We are delighted with this grand gesture by Diageo which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this major work to be acquired for the nation.

“The Monarch of the Glen is an iconic image which is famous across the world.

“The ideal home for such an important and resonant picture is the Scottish National Gallery where it can be enjoyed and admired by millions of visitors in the context of the nation’s unrivalled collection of Scottish, British and European art.

“We look forward to working with Diageo and our partners to ensure we achieve our ambition.”

David Cutter, Diageo’s senior director in Scotland said: “We are delighted to partner with the National Galleries of Scotland, to create the opportunity for The Monarch of the Glen to remain on public display in Scotland on a permanent basis.”

The Monarch of the Glen is one of the most famous paintings of the 19th century.

Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President, Christie’s, said: “This superb painting was purchased from Christie’s in 1916, and it is fitting exactly 100 years later in our 250th year it has the opportunity to find its permanent home in the National Galleries of Scotland.”