Leader comment: £4m for Monarch of the Glen is a price worth paying

A deal has been struck to take the Monarch of the Glen into public ownership for the first time.
A deal has been struck to take the Monarch of the Glen into public ownership for the first time.
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Two weeks ago it looked like one of the most famous paintings depicting Scotland, the Monarch of the Glen, was destined to leave the country when it was announced by owners Diageo that it was being put up for sale.

As these columns argued, the loss of such an iconic image would be a matter for regret, because although the painting had been in private ownership since it was completed by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1851, it had felt like public property because it had been widely used in advertising and had been on loan to the National Museum of Scotland for 17 years.

The painting provides an attractive and positive image of Scotland, and is clearly a valuable marketing asset.

But the argument that Diageo, a multinational which recorded revenue of £10.8 billion last year, should just gift the Monarch to the nation was undermined by that fact that Diageo had effectively done that by ensuring it was in public hands for all the time that the painting had been owned by the company.

Rarely do such matters come to a swift and satisfactory conclusion, but it appears that the fate of the Monarch is the happy exception after the National Galleries of Scotland and Diageo formed a partnership to help secure the painting for the nation. The deal is a fair bargain to strike, with each party meeting half-way thanks to the drinks company’s admirable gesture to gift half the value of the painting if National Galleries Scotland can raise the other £4 million required.

A happy ending is in sight. Provided the still significant price tag can be settled, great credit is due to all those who have worked behind the scenes to ensure the Monarch continues to survey all Scotland before him.