She has become one of the London gallery’s largest benefactors
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A retired French teacher from Stockton has left an "enormously generous" £6.75m to the National Gallery in her will.
Martha Doris Bailey has become one of the London gallery's largest benefactors, after leaving a property in trust to sell on its behalf. Mrs Bailey died in 2000 at the age of 92 and only two people are said to have attended her funeral.
She instructed that the sale be postponed for a period "not exceeding 80 years", until trustees had gained planning permission for homes to be built on the land near Stockton.
The National Gallery said the late Mrs Bailey’s husband Richard Hillman Bailey, had been a housebuilder in life and Mrs Bailey’s trustees were left a farm on trust to sell.
A spokesperson said: "This has now been partially achieved and, in accordance with the late Mrs Bailey’s wishes, has resulted in a wonderful gift of £6.75m to the National Gallery’s Acquisition Fund."
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Mrs Bailey was "initially introduced to Neil MacGregor during his time as director of the National Gallery," the spokesperson continued. "Following her death in 2000, the Gallery was touched to learn of her bequest."
The first tranche of her gift helped the gallery acquire German artist Adolph Menzel’s 1867 artwork Afternoon in the Tuileries Gardens in 2006. "With receipt of the second tranche this year, 22 years after her passing," the gallery's spokesperson added, "she continues to play an important role in the development of the national collection."
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square houses world-famous works of art including The Hay Wain by John Constable and da Vinci's Virgin on the Rocks. Just Stop Oil protesters threw a tin of soup at Vincent Van Gogh's famous 1888 work Sunflowers at the gallery, a month ago.
The National Gallery's director Gabriele Finaldi said he was “honoured” to receive her “unique and enormously generous legacy”. The National Gallery's website says the venue is "here for everyone".
"Gifts in wills no matter how small or large have the power to help us connect people to paintings for generations to come, supporting our programme of education and conservation, as well as acquisitions," it added.
"We would like to express our heart-felt appreciation to the late Mrs Martha Doris and Mr Richard Hillman Bailey for their generosity and foresight, as well as all those who have left a gift in their will to the National Gallery."
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