Fra Angelico. The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist and the Magdalen (1420s).

The British government has barred the export of an early Renaissance painting depicting the crucifixion by the Dominican friar Fra Angelico. The export bar was placed on the painting by the country’s Department of Culture Media and Sport in the hope a British gallery or institution will acquire it, according to a news release.

The painting, tempera on wood panel and in its original frame, dates to the 1420s and depicts Jesus with the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John the Evangelist in Fra Angelico’s characteristic luminous colors. It is worth more than £5 million ($6.4 million).

“This beautiful piece by such an important figure of the early Renaissance represents a key moment in the history of European painting,” Stephen Parkinson, the arts and heritage minister, said in a statement.

Parkinson added that the painting has been in the U.K. for two centuries but is at risk of being sent abroad. The decision to order the export ban follows the advice of an independent committee, which found that it could “constitute a major addition” to a public collection and “every effort should be made” to acquire it.

“Fra Angelico was one of the great innovators in the evolution of early 15th-century Florentine art,” committee member Christopher Baker said in a statement. “This profoundly moving devotional work, with its delicate color harmonies and deeply considered, expressive figures, demonstrates the enduring power of his achievement.”

Countries use export licensing systems to keep track of cultural goods that might be deemed at risk or of national importance and, as such, should not be exported without review.

A decision on whether to grant an export license application for the Fra Angelico work has been delayed until April 7 to allow time for potential buyers to come forward. At that time, the owners of the work will have 15 business days to consider any offers.


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