Artwork from the 18th century, valued at £ 8 m, which could leave Britain unless a buyer is found
Ministers also imposed a temporary ban on the English landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough’s export of an oil painting in the hope that a UK gallery or museum will be able to raise the funds to purchase it.
Going to auction, Early Morning was sold at Sotheby’s in July, painted in 1773 and priced at £ 8 m. The arts minister, Helen Whately, temporarily blocked an application by his new owner to remove the painting from the UK.
She said, “Gainsborough is one of the greatest British landscape artists and his work still wows audiences more than 250 years later.” “This piece is a superb example and I hope that a UK buyer can be found so we can find a new home for this work in our national collection.”
The export ban was placed on painting after the review committee’s advice on the export of works of art and cultural objects (RCEWA), which agreed that it was “one of the greatest achievements of Gainsborough’s.”
Gainsborough, who was born in Suffolk in 1727, was a founding member of the Royal Academy and later became a favorite painter of King George III. The artwork depicts a group traveling on horseback through the countryside passing by a destitute mother with a baby.
Christopher Baker, who sits on the RCEWA said, “Thomas Gainsborough is chiefly known as a refined portrait painter. However, he also composed idyllic, rural scenes and Going to Market, Early Morning is one of his greatest achievements in this genre.”
Added that: “With engaging figures and exquisitely modulated silvery light, it subtly displays his knowledge of 17th-century European art and is a delightful, lyrical, escapist image. “It has been justly celebrated through a number of high-profile exhibitions and has the distinction of a history that connects it with very important British collections from the time it was painted in the 1770s in Bath. It would be wholly appropriate if it found a permanent home in a UK public institution.”
The decision on the painting’s export license application will be delayed until March 22, 2020, but this could be extended to September 22, if there is a serious plan to collect funds to buy it.
The estimated price for the artwork is £ 7,961,000 plus £ 234,200 VAT, but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport stated that it could be considered proposals from public bodies for less.


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