Collector leaves huge art bequest to nation

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LONDON, Oct 29 (Reuters) British art collector Simon Sainsbury has left 18 paintings estimated to be worth up to 100 million pounds to two national collections.

Sainsbury, who died last year, bequeathed works from artists including Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud to the Tate and the National Gallery in what Tate director Nicholas Serota called one of the biggest art donations of the past century.

''Simon Sainsbury was one of the great arts patrons of his generation,'' Serota told reporters at Tate Britain, one of Tate's galleries in London.

''The bequest was discussed with Simon in the mid-1990s ... (and) Simon, through those discussions, sought to bring pictures into the national collections that would really register and make a difference to the national collections.'' Five of the 18 works will go to the National Gallery and 13 to the Tate, which tends to concentrate on British and 20th Century art.

The bequest to the National Gallery includes ''Snow Scene at Argenteuil'' (1875) and ''Water-Lilies, Setting Sun'' (1907) by Monet, Henri Rousseau's ''Portrait of Joseph Brummer (1909), ''After the Bath'' (1896) by Edgar Degas and a Gauguin.

The Tate receives works including ''Study For a Portrait'' (1952) by Francis Bacon, apparently inspired by Sergei Eisenstein's film ''The Battleship Potemkin'', and paintings by Pierre Bonnard, Balthus, Thomas Gainsborough and Lucian Freud.

''It is one of the most important bequests to come to the nation in the last 100 years,'' Serota said, adding that its value was somewhere between 70 and 100 million pounds.

The Tate will exhibit the 18 donated paintings in a show next summer, after which they will be divided between the two collections.

Simon Sainsbury, a private but influential arts and heritage benefactor, was from the family behind J Sainsbury Plc, one of Britain's biggest supermarket chains.

REUTERS SKB KN1724

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