Parmigianino LA-bound after failed search for UK buyer

A multimillion pound oil painting by Parmigianino will be shipped to the United States after no buyers were found in the United Kingdom to step and rescue it from export.

‘Virgin and Child with Saint Mary Magdalen and the Infant Saint John the Baptist’ (c. 1535-40) was purchased from the private collection of the Dent-Brocklehurst family by Los Angeles’ J. Paul Getty Museum in 2016. UK Culture Minister, Matt Hancock, placed a temporary export bar on the painting by Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (called Parmigianino) to enable a UK buyer to match the £24.5 million asking price by June 2017.

The export bar followed a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) of Arts Council England made in December 2016. The RCEWA objected to the export of the artwork from the UK on the grounds that it was ‘closely connected with our history and national life and… it was of outstanding aesthetic importance’. The committee also considered it to be ‘one of the finest specimens by the artist remaining in private hands’.

With no buyers to save the painting for the nation by the June deadline the UK government has now granted it an export licence. The Parmigianino joins a growing art ‘exodus’ from the UK with foreign buyers capitalising on the  Brexit-weakened pound to snap up masterpieces.

In January 2017, Director of UK charity Art Fund, Stephen Deuchar, called for a strengthening of the UK’s export rules to protect the flight of national treasures from the country.

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