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Millions raised to keep rarely seen Manet painting in England

Millions raised to keep rarely seen Manet painting in England
Edouard Manet's "Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus" at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. (Chris Jackson for Ashmolean Museum)

A museum in England has raised close to £8 million ($12.5 million) to prevent a painting by Edouard Manet from leaving the country. Manet's "Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus" had been purchased by a foreign buyer, but the British government halted the painting's export to give the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford time to acquire it.

The Ashmolean Museum announced this week on its website that it has raised £7.8 million for the painting. It said the money from the eight-month fund-raising campaign came from a few sources -- £5.9 million from the British government's Heritage Lottery Fund; £850,000 from The Art Fund, a British cultural charity; and approximately £1.1 million from individual donors who number in the "hundreds."

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Manet's unfinished painting dates from 1868 and was once in the collection of John Singer Sargent. In 2011, the heirs of Sargent sold the work to a foreign buyer for £28.4 million.

Britain's cultural department subsequently judged the painting to be a significant cultural work and put an export halt on the painting until Aug. 7.

The government allowed the Ashmolean to purchase the work at 27% of its market value, according to the museum.

The halting of the painting's export caused some ruckus in the art world, with some people questioning why Britain should have a cultural claim to a work created by a French Impressionist painter.

The painting has been rarely seen in public. The Ashmolean said it will put the work on public display and include it in an international tour expected to start next year.

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