The Wolsey Angels saved for the nation

    Wolsey Angels fundraising campaign, actor Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey with reunited four bronze angels. Photo: (C) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    The V&A has now successfully raised the money to acquire four highly important bronze angels originally designed for the tomb of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, chief advisor to King Henry VIII, and once one of the most powerful men in England.

    The campaign was very much aided by a grant of £2 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund generously contributed £500,000, and the Friends of the V&A gave £200,000; a further substantial gift was made in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, and many other private individuals and trusts, most notably the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, also donated.

    Over £87,000 was raised from a national public appeal. Around £33,000 of that came through on-site donations and selling £1 ‘Save the Wolsey Angels’ badges in the V&A Shop. Martin Roth, V&A Director, said: “The Wolsey Angels are a vital part of our national history and artistic heritage. We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to our fundraising appeal to ensure these outstanding sculptures, which were thought to be lost, are reunited and preserved at the V&A for future generations.”

    Fiona Talbott, Head of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: “Many of us have been enjoying the BBC’s production of Wolf Hall which makes it even more fitting to celebrate the purchase of these extraordinary statues. Congratulations to the V&A for being so tenacious in securing their future. We feel proud to have played a part too and hope that the Cardinal Wolsey’s Angels – thanks to their current high profile – will attract many admirers both now and in the future.”

    During the fundraising campaign, all four of The Wolsey Angels were reunited for the first time since 1988 in the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. Now that the pieces have been acquired they will undergo conservation treatment and their differing surface appearance, due to their recent history, will be investigated and harmonised. They will go back on display once the work has been complete.


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