Edinburgh-born Peter Doig and his family have arranged for the painting At the Edge of Town to enter Scotland’s national collection.
The acquisition was made under the Scottish Government’s “acceptance-in-lieu” scheme, which allows for the transfer of important works of art into public ownership to help reduce inheritance tax bills, following the death of his first wife Bonnie.
Doig, who had five children with Bonnie, said he was “honoured” the work was now on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Experts there have described the 62-year-old, who has lived in Trinidad – where he has spent some of his childhood – for the past 20 years, as “one of the most highly-regarded painters anywhere in the world.”
The deal has realized a long-held ambition by the National Galleries of Scotland to acquire a work by Doig, who became the most valuable living painter in Europe in 2007. One of his paintings was sold for $39 million (at a Christie’s auction in New York last year.
Doig’s career was celebrated in his home city in 2013 when the National Galleries staged the first major exhibition of his work in Scotland. He has admitted it “simply could not afford” to buy any of his paintings by him on the open market.
Deputy director Keith Hartley said: “The show concentrated on the works he had produced since his move in 2002 to Trinidad, a country he had known since childhood, when his family moved there.
“Working closely on the exhibition created a good relationship between him and the National Galleries. Doig knew that we were very keen to have one of his paintings by him in our collection.
“At the Edge of Town was, as Doig himself recently explained, ‘made before I painted Milky Way – considered by many to be a seminal work – and the first painting that referred directly to landscape. It is the first painting made in the late ’80s that informs the group of works that immediately followed’.
“At the Edge of Town is, indeed, a new beginning in Doig’s work. He began it in Canada – the country where he had grown up after his family moved from Trinidad – in the summer of 1986.”
Doig said: “I’m greatly honored to have this early and pivotal work in Scotland’s national collection, and on display in Edinburgh, the city of my birth and some of my earliest memories.”
Simon Groom, director of modern and cotemporary art at the National Galleries, said: “Peter Doig is one of the most highly-regarded painters working anywhere in the world, and whose prices put him well beyond the budget of any public institution.
“At the Edge of Town is a painting any major museum in the world would love to have, and it is only through the help of the acceptance-in-lieu scheme that we are able to acquire the painting for the nation.
“As an Edinburgh-born artist, this work by Doig fills one of the greatest gaps in our contemporary collection. We are enormously grateful to Peter Doig and his family for making it possible.”