Claude Lorrain Painting Banned from Leaving UK

Britain’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has ordered an export ban on a recently rediscovered painting by the French painter Claude Lorrain, the Guardian reports. Vaizey imposed the ban based on a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), an NGO that determines artworks of national importance.

Considered one of Lorrain’s finest works, the painting depicts St. Paula leaving for Jerusalem. It was purchased by an international  collector and will leave the UK after the ban expires, unless £5,066,500 can be raised.

Aidan Weston-Lewis of the RCEWA justified the committees recommendation, describing the work as “a classic harbor scene by the greatest landscape painter of the 17th century.” He explained, “For all its narrative interest and incidental detail, its real subject is light – the glorious, golden light of the sun rising over the sea which bathes the entire scene and imbues it with an extraordinary poetic beauty.”

Unfortunately, UK museums simply don’t have the funds to purchase the painting. The National Arts Council and the government have until May 1, when the export ban expires, to raise the money. However, the ban can be extended to November 1, if the target is close to being reached.

Vaizey said, “I hope that my placing a temporary export bar on this striking painting will allow time for a UK buyer to come forward and acquire it for the nation. It is of outstanding beauty and it would be tremendous to see it permanently on display in a UK gallery where it can be appreciated by all.”

The ban comes after a German court prohibited a Berlin dealer from exporting a rare George Grosz drawing to a UK exhibition (see George Grosz Work Forbidden from Leaving Germany).

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