Batoni Appeal Launched
02 June 2008
The Olympia Fine Art & Antiques Fair, together with The Art Fund, have launched a public appeal to help RAMM purchase an 18th century portrait of Devon dignitary John Rolle Walter by Pompeo Batoni. The painting is being sold by Great Torrington Almshouse, Town Lands and Poors Charities and was recently removed from auction to give RAMM a chance to raise funds to buy it, thereby keeping the painting in the South West.
Pompeo Batoni is regarded as one of the greatest portrait painters of the 18th century, making this a major potential acquisition and RAMM is the natural home for the painting. John Rolle Walter was MP for Exeter between 1754 and 1776 and MP for Devon from 1776 to 1779. By the 18th century his family were the dominant landowners in Devon and their extensive holdings included Bicton House, near Exeter.
The appeal was launched on 4 June by celebrated actress and national treasure Joanna Lumley. A giant replica jigsaw puzzle has been made of the portrait and visitors to the fair, open from 5th-15th June, are being urged to buy a piece to help raise £15,000 towards the £300,000 sale price of the painting. Jigsaw pieces range from £5 to £1,000 and members of the public can visit the fair or donate to the campaign on 0870 848 2003.
Cllr Kevin Mitchell, Lead Councillor for Environment and Leisure, said
"It would be a shame if this painting were to leave the South West where it so obviously belongs. Such an important painting requires the best of homes and John Rolle Walter's strong connection to Exeter make our Museum the ideal place. We're delighted that the Olympia Fair and The Art Fund have set the ball rolling by starting up an appeal fund and would be very grateful if anyone wants to contribute to it."
The Olympia Fine Art & Antiques Fair is at Olympia Exhibition Halls, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX from 5 to 15 June 2008. For more information visit www.olympiaartsinternational.com
The Art Fund is an independent charity that exists to save art for everyone to enjoy. For more information visit www.artfund.org