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Peter Blake self-portrait acquired for the nation

The figure in the background holds a large Valentine’s Day card.

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Pop artist Sir Peter Blake (Yui Mok/PA)

Pop artist Sir Peter Blake (Yui Mok/PA)

Pop artist Sir Peter Blake (Yui Mok/PA)

An early self-portrait by pop artist Sir Peter Blake referencing his unrequited love has been acquired for the nation.

Boy With Paintings (1957-9) is a double self-portrait featuring the Valentine’s Day card he created for Pauline Boty, who was then a fellow student.

Tears springing from the main figure’s eyes reflect the fact that the pop artist’s feelings were not returned.

The painting shows a young Sir Peter in the background and the more mature artist in the foreground, though still dressed as a boy.

Sir Peter Blake, Boy With Paintings (Pallant House Gallery)

Boty, the object of Sir Peter’s affections, went on to become one of the founders of the British pop art movement

The work has been acquired for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme and allocated to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.

The acceptance of the painting settled £219,000 of tax.

It comes from the collection of Muriel Wilson, who recently bequeathed more than 40 works to the Gallery.

Simon Martin, Pallant House Gallery director, said: “We are thrilled to acquire such an important and poignant painting by Peter Blake for Pallant House Gallery’s remarkable pop art collection.”

Edward Harley, chair of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said: “Blake is a towering figure of modern British art, and it is appropriate that this work should join the holdings of one of the strongest collections of modern British art in the UK.

“I hope that this example will encourage others to use the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme to continue to bolster our national collections.”

The work will go on display in A Life In Art: The Muriel Wilson Collection, from February 15 to June 7.

PA