AN Old Master painting has been saved for the nation after a campaign supported by the Yorkshire Post raised £2.72 million to buy it.
Members of the public contributed more than 680,000 to the fund to buy the Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, which has hung in Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, for more than 200 years.
The artwork is a major draw for visitors to the stately home which has been owned by the National Trust since 1954.
But the painting remained the property of Lord St Oswald, and was put up for sale - with the risk it would disappear from public view - prompting the bid to buy it for the nation.
The Old Master was secured with news the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which aims to save some of the most outstanding parts of the nation's heritage, was providing a grant of 1,034,000 to help reach the 2.7 million fundraising target.
The three-month campaign was kick-started with a 500,000 grant from the Art Fund and also secured 510,000 from trusts and foundations, as well as the 680,000 from members of the public, who included many Art Fund and National Trust members.
The success of the fundraising campaign means the Procession to Calvary can remain on display at Nostell Priory.
The painting, completed in 1602, is among Brueghel the Younger's finest works and shows Christ carrying the cross through a Flemish landscape to the site of his crucifixion, surrounded by more than 200 figures including peasants, children, animals, gentry and soldiers.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: "We have been bowled over by the support and enthusiasm of the public of this quite extraordinary painting, helping us to reach the 2.7 million target.
"Considering the economic climate, this has been a hugely challenging campaign and we are enormously grateful to all our members and supporters who have given so generously."
Dame Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, said: "This is wonderful news and a marvellous start to the New Year with the knowledge that Nostell Priory's star attraction will stay where it belongs and continue to be enjoyed by visitors."
Dame Jenny Abramsky, chairwoman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: "The overwhelming public support to help secure this stunning painting has been an inspiration.
"Individual giving combined with ongoing support from government funds such as the National Heritage Memorial Fund, will play an increasingly important role in securing our most precious heritage."
The Procession to Calvary joins a wide range of more than 1,200 objects and places which have been safeguarded by the NHMF to the tune of more than 300 million, including the Mary Rose, the Flying Scotsman and the Staffordshire hoard.