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In 2023, I was asked to act as an expert advisor to the Acceptance in Lieu (AiL) Scheme Panel for Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite paintings. This scheme allows those who have a bill for Inheritance Tax to pay the tax by transferring important cultural, scientific or historic objects and archives from their personal collection to public institutions in the UK. 

Not long after accepting the role, I was asked to assess ten paintings from the Stephenson Collection, which included delicate chalk portrait of Christina Rossetti by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, important preparatory works for the Manchester Town Hall Murals by Ford Madox Brown and captivating moonscapes by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

In this talk, I will explore the AiL scheme and give examples of notable works which have been added to national collections under the scheme and discuss my advisory role with the AiL Panel, shedding light on how items are meticulously evaluated and allocated to museums, archives, and libraries for public enjoyment and scholarly exploration. Drawing specific focus on the remarkable pictures from the Stephenson Collection, I will discuss the Pre-Raphaelite pictures I assessed under the AiL guidelines and let you know which of these works were accepted by the Panel and, if so, which institutions you might visit to see them.


Sarah Hardy is the Director of the De Morgan Museum. She has curated a number of exhibitions such as Sublime Symmetry, focussing on William De Morgan’s mathematical ceramic designs, and ‘Artist of Hope’, on which she worked with community groups to reinterpret Evelyn De Morgan’s WWI pictures for 2021. Sarah has published widely on Victorian art and design. Her article on Burne-Jones’s illustrations of the Kelmscott Chaucer was a highlight of the 2021 special edition of the Journal of William Morris Studies and she has chapters due in 2022 on William De Morgan’s inventive practice, and Evelyn De Morgan’s gold drawings. Sarah is a Trustee of the William Morris Society and lectures for the National Gallery. In 2023 Sarah became an expert adviser for the Acceptance in Lieu (AiL) Scheme Panel for Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

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