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At risk of export: The painting that paid for the parties

08 February 2013

Categories:
Museums and Libraries

One of the last few examples of British landscapes by American painters in a UK collection is at risk of permanently leaving the UK, the second time in recent history it has faced being exported overseas.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on Jasper Francis Cropsey’s painting Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862 to provide a last chance to raise the £4,950,000 needed to keep the painting in the UK. The painting has not left British collections since it was originally sold 150 years ago by the artist to pay off debts accrued as a result of his extravagant entertaining whilst working in London.

Born on Staten Island, New York, Cropsey was drawn to landscape painting, which had emerged in the early nineteenth century as the most innovative branch of American painting. An earlier European trip in 1847 exposed him to Britain and the Continent, and he later returned to England, showing regularly at the Royal Academy. One early critic of Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862 said it depicted “a view unsurpassed for its purely English beauty” and Cropsey’s capture of something so quintessentially British marks a particular moment in time when British art bore significant influence on foreign artists

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that it was of outstanding significance for the study of the relationship between British and American painting in the nineteenth century, in particular the development of the ‘Hudson River School’ of landscape painting.

An earlier export licence application for the painting in February 2000 was withdrawn after the RCEWA recommended that export be deferred for three months to allow time for a potential purchaser to be identified.

Chairman of the RCEWA, Lord Inglewood said: “Very few 19th century British Landscapes by American artists remain in the UK. This painting, known in the literature from the time of its first exhibition but rediscovered only in 1999, is a rare survivor, and I hope that funds can be raised to save this wonderful painting for the nation.”

The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending on 7th April 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 7th August 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the paintings at the recommended price of £4,950,000.

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Notes to editors

1. Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the painting should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.

2. The details of the paintings are:
Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)
Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862
Oil on canvas, 137 x 244 cm
Signed and dated 1862

Provenance:
Foster & Sons, London, Pictures and Sketches by J.F. Cropsey Esq, 29 April
1863, lot 125; Mr. Graham, purchased at the above sale for £472; James
McHenry Esq, by 1870; Bonhams, London, 14 December 1999, lot 50;
Private collection, London, purchased at the above sale.

3. The expert adviser opposed the export of this painting when a licence was applied for once before, in February 2000. The Export Review Committee determined at the time that the painting met the second and third Waverley criteria and recommended that export be deferred for three months while a potential purchaser was identified at or above the recommended price of £1,566, 262.50. The owner then withdrew the licence application.

4. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. More information on the criteria can be found here.

5. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. Between 2011 and 2015, it will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk