Arts Minister Rebecca Pow has temporary blocked a £27.5 million Monet painting from export in the hope it can be saved for the nation.
The current licensing system enables the government to defer issuing an export license for cultural objects if they are considered national treasures, based on the Waverley criteria.
“Monet is one of the world’s most famous and celebrated artists and his works still resonate more than 100 years on. With his trademark ingenuity he managed to capture the changing ways people viewed nature and the world around them at the turn of the century,” explained Minister Pow.
In February, Sotheby’s sold Claude Monet’s ‘Le Palais Ducal’ at auction to an unknown foreign buyer. The UK government are now attempting to find a buyer who can keep the Impressionist masterpiece from leaving the country.
Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, Helena Newman, at the time noted how “this spellbinding painting is a true masterpiece and among the very greatest Monet painted during his first and only encounter with Venice.”
Created in 1908, the oil painting depicts the grand façade of the Doge’s palace in Venice and its reflection in the canal. Monet observed this spectacular view from a moored boat whilst visiting the city with his wife. The artist was taking respite from painting his famous water lilies series.
Minister Pow insists “this is a rare and beautiful example of Monet’s Venetian studies and I hope that the funds can be raised to keep this treasure in the UK.”
‘Le Palais Ducal’ was owned by the same family for nearly 100 years until it was recently sold at auction. It is also one of a few works by Monet that depict Venice, making it an extremely rare work in his oeuvre and on the art market.
The Minister’s export bar follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). Reasons for their decision include the painting’s aesthetic quality and its interest to academia.
Committee member Aidan Weston-Lewis added “this exceptional painting brilliantly demonstrates the pivotal status of Monet’s later art between impressionist representation and modernist abstraction.”
Over the next three months the hunt is on to find a British gallery that can raise funds to match the auction price, plus £706,800 VAT.
The export licence will be deferred until 8 November 2019. Minister Pow’s decision comes a week after she also blocked the export of a £10 million painting by J.M.W. Turner.