Rothschild help for Jacob and sons paintings

Paintings of Jacob and his Twelve Sons, linked to Jewish emancipation, are to remain in their historic home after a campaign to stop their sale.

The portraits by 17th century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran were brought to Durham by the philosemitic Bishop Richard George in 1756. They have hung in Auckland Castle, the bishop's official residence, ever since.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman led protests after the Church of England planned to sell the paintings, worth around £15 million.

But now they will stay at the castle, thanks to a £15 million donation from investment manager Jonathan Ruffer. The Rothschild Foundation has offered up to £1 million to develop the castle as a heritage site. Durham Council leader Simon Henig, a member of Newcastle Reform Synagogue, said: "I believe we can now secure a future for the Zurbaráns at Auckland Castle."

Last updated: 12:05pm, March 31 2011