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Report published on export of art works reveals five saved from 12 in 2014-15

By Adrian Murphy

The 61st annual report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (Reviewing Committee) has been published today

The report states that out of the 12 items referred to the Secretary of State for deferral on the Reviewing Committee’s recommendation, five were saved from leaving the country during 2014 and 2015 and subsequently purchased for collections across the UK.

They were a rare English translation of Enchiridion militis Christiani by Desiderius Erasmus (£242,500) – British Library, the left wing of a diptych Italian painting from the early 14th century by Giovanni da Rimini (£5,682,500) – National Gallery, the Campbell Sisters dancing a waltz, sculpture by Lorenzo Bartolini (£523,800) – Victoria and Albert Museum and National Galleries Scotland, The Rejlander Album (£82,600) – National Portrait Gallery (main image), and a William Burges vase from the Summer Smoking Room, Cardiff Castle (£163,000) – National Museum Wales.

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (Reviewing Committee) is an independent body. It advises the Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) whether a cultural object intended for export is a national treasure. Any item considered too important to leave the UK can be placed under temporary export deferral.

“This would not have happened without the support of many private donors and other bodies and organisations,” said Sir Hayden Phillips, Chairman of the Reviewing Committee. “Their continuing support is vital. While it is right that we celebrate the successes that have been achieved we cannot be complacent as a number of significant items were not retained. This underlines both the continuing need for strong support and for trying to ensure that we make practical improvements to our processes where we can.”

The seven case studied that could not be saved were:

  • The Bruce James Talbert ‘Pericles Dressoir’
  • The Adoration of the Magi, by John Flaxman RA
  • The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, by Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • A marble statue of Aphrodite
  • A Mediterranean Port at Sunrise with the Embarkation of Saint Paula for Jerusalem, by Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain
  • The Statue of Sekhemka
  • A collection of works by Thomas Baines, North Australian Expedition, 1855–57

Cultural objects of more than 50 years of age, and above a certain price, require a licence for export out of the UK. When an export licence application is objected to by an Expert Adviser it is referred to the Reviewing Committee. The Committee, serviced by Arts Council England, advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria.

If an object meets one or more of the criteria, the Committee will recommend that the case is deferred. The Secretary of State can then place a temporary export bar on the item, which gives museums, galleries, libraries and private individuals in the UK time to raise funds to purchase them.

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase any of the items in the left hand column should contact the owner’s agent through: Peter Rowlands Secretary The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest Arts Council England 21 Bloomsbury Street London WC1B 3H Tel: 020 7268 9671 Email: [email protected]