SENDING millions of pounds worth of art to overseas galleries will create a “showcase” for Scotland’s biggest city, it is claimed.

Almost 60 artworks will be loaned to the Musee Cantini in Marseille and 75 will tour Japan in deals agreed by Glasgow City Council last week.

All are part of the extensive Burrell Collection amassed by city shipping magnate William Burrell and have been placed in storage as the purpose-built museum dedicated to the statues, paintings and antiquities undergoes major refurbishment.

Burrell, who died in 1958, gifted his 9000 private treasures to the Glasgow Corporation in 1944 on conditions including a bar on overseas lending. This was removed following an appeal to the Scottish Parliament in 2014.

The French loan, which includes items worth almost £181 million, will bring in a “sponsorship contribution” of €100,000 – around £88,700 – towards exhibition costs and €50,000 – £44,300 – for the £66 million Burrell Collection revamp.

The local authority has committed half of the cash and efforts to raise the rest continue.

The five-stop tour of Japan, which features pieces worth almost £142m, will deliver a £30,000-per-venue hire fee and £1-a-head ticket share for all visitors over a 100,000 threshold.

The National:

Yesterday Councillor David McDonald, depute leader of the council and city convener for communities, told The National money was not the motivator, but that the high-profile exhibitions could create a major tourism boost.

He said: “It’s a showcase for the city.

“Being able to take the best of our collections to Marseille and across Japan is a great showcase for Glasgow.

“If we hadn’t sent these items out to really take advantage of the renovation, then we would have been missing a trick.”

Referring to efforts to rebrand Glasgow as the “gateway to Scotland”, he went on: “I don’t think the finances are ever the driving factor for any decisions around culture in the city.

“We have got a very ambitious tourism plan to raise numbers to 61m by 2023. We know that one of the ways to do that is to show people what they are would be able to see.”

French art lovers can take in the displays from May to September, with the Japanese events opening in October and running at various sites until January 2020.

Both exhibitions will focus on French art, covering both realism and impressionism and including an “exceptional collection” of pieces including those by Degas, Manet and Millet.

The National:

This takes in Van Gogh’s portrait of Scottish art dealer Alexander Reid, The Rehearsal by Degas – which draws on the influence of Japanese print and photography – and Cezanne landscape The Chateau of Medan, which will be seen in the artist’s home region of France for the first time since its purchase by the Scots tycoon.

Dr Frances Fowle, chair of the Burrell Trustees, said the body is “pleased to support the overseas tours” which will “create a context for the exchange of research and expertise” and improve recognition of the archive of treasures.

Meanwhile, McDonald says the shows will improve the Burrell Collection’s standing on the world stage ahead of the dedicated gallery’s reopening, which is expected in 2021, and cement Glasgow’s status as “the real cultural hub of Scotland”.

He said: “We know that it is a much-loved local collection, but these are events that prove it does have an international influence that we maybe haven’t recognised before.

“This will raise not only Glasgow’s profile, but Scotland’s profile internationally.”

On the importance of Burrell’s legacy and museum, he went on: “It changed people’s perception of Glasgow.

“The reopening, putting about 98 percent of the items on display, really shows to the world that this is a collection as good as you can find, on a level footing with some of the best private and city collections anywhere.”