Just before Christmas, Arts Council England announced that a second artwork has been donated to the nation under the Cultural Gifts Scheme.
Only launched in March 2013, the scheme is intended to encourage lifetime gifts of cultural and art objects to the nation. It is effectively a sister arrangement to the better-known Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which encourages similar gifts on death. Both offer tax breaks (although in respect of different taxes) in exchange for such donations.
The new gift is an early Vincent Van Gogh painting entitled Head of a Peasant Woman. Now on display in the National Gallery, it is an important addition to the collection, being the gallery’s earliest work by the painter as well as its only Van Gogh figure painting (the other six being landscape and still life works).
|Head of a Peasant Woman, Vincent Van Gogh |
c. 1884. Credit: The National Gallery
The first donation under the scheme was a collection of manuscript lyrics and letters written by John Lennon, including song lyrics and letters, given to the British Library in April 2013.
The scheme is applicable to objects which are deemed “pre-eminent” in terms of their national, scientific, historic or artistic interest. Where an individual or a company owns such a pre-eminent object, they can choose donate it to the nation in return for a reduction in their UK tax liabilities. The amount of the reduction is based on a set percentage of the value of the object donated, and that percentage differs depending on whether the donor is an individual or a company; for an individual, the maximum reduction is 30% of the value of the donated object, while for a company it is 20%.
Together, the two gifts represent tax settlements of £585,000.