The National Gallery announced Friday that an early painting by Vincent van Gogh would become the latest addition to its collection at its central London base.
The early oil painting by Dutch painter Van Gogh, entitled "Head of a Peasant Woman", is the first early work by the artist to enter the National Gallery collection.
Van Gogh began his career in the 1880s in his native Holland, where this painting was executed. It is the first figure painting of his to enter the gallery's collection, as the National Gallery's six other Van Gogh works are landscapes and still lifes.
The painting enters the collection under the Cultural Gifts Scheme introduced by the British government earlier this year. The scheme allows taxpayers to donate works of art in return for a tax reduction.
"Head of a Peasant Woman" is one of the most appealing of Van Gogh's series of around 40 portraits of the peasants of Nuenen.
He painted them in late 1884/early 1885 when he had settled in the village, in North Brabant in the Netherlands, where his father was a minister.
The series of paintings that he executed that winter, as he established himself as a painter of working people, is arguably the first sustained artistic achievement of Van Gogh's mature artistic career.
While the Paris and Arles periods of Van Gogh's career are well known, the importance of the Nuenen peasant portraits as a breakthrough in his artistic development is also widely recognised by scholars and critics.
National Gallery director Nicholas Penny said "Before this acquisition, the National Gallery gave the public no idea of Van Gogh's early work and had no painting which showed his extraordinary sympathy for the common people - who were never in his mind common at all."
In 2014 the National Gallery will be holding an exhibition centered around two later Van Gogh paintings.
Two versions of Van Gogh's iconic "Sunflowers" are being reunited for the first time in 65 years, in a show which runs from the end of January until April.