The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by
the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural
Interest (Reviewing Committee), administered by Arts Council England. The
Reviewing Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the
grounds that the table top is of
outstanding aesthetic importance and outstanding significance for the study of
early European marquetry.
The table top, which dates from the mid-sixteenth
century, was intended to celebrate the military acumen and political courage of
the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, who abdicated voluntarily in 1556. It is
likely to have been commissioned by a very senior member of the imperial court
and made by one of the most accomplished workshops in Augsburg – a German city that
was home to some of the most important developments in sixteenth century
The table top is an exceptionally rare
and complex example of south German marquetry, shows very fine workmanship and
remains in unusually good condition. The design is intended to be seen from all
sides, perhaps suggesting the multi-facetted challenges of imperial rule. Unlike
a lot of early furniture, it retains much of the pristine impact that it would
have had when originally produced as an exceptional luxury object.
Ownership of the table top can be
traced as far back as the early to mid-nineteenth century. Gregory de Ligne
Gregory, an energetic and eclectic collector, acquired the table top for Harlaxton
Manor in Lincolnshire as part of a nineteenth century interest in collecting
German Renaissance furniture.
Simon Swynfen Jervis, Reviewing
Committee member, said: “This spectacular and historic marquetry table top is a
masterpiece of international significance, both for the virtuoso quality of its
execution and the rich complexity of its design. There is nothing comparable in
The decision on the export licence
application for the table top will be deferred for a period ending on 12
February 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 12 May 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to
raise funds is expressed with a view to making an offer to purchase the table
top at the recommended price of £274,300 (inclusive of VAT; but please note
that any institution which is able to reclaim VAT would need to match £265,250
plus VAT at 20%, the latter of which could be reclaimed).
Notes to editors
- Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the table top should contact:
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
Arts Council England
Great Peter Street
Tel: 0845 300 6200
- Anyone interested in making a matching offer and who requires further information about the table top from the Champion should contact The Secretary to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest at the above address.
- For enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact the Enquiries team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0845 300 6200
- The details of the table top are:
A south German sycamore, walnut, olive, yew-wood and pen-engraved fruitwood marquetry table top
74cm high, 129cm wide, 124cm deep
Acquired by Gregory de Ligne Gregory (d. 1854) for Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, by descent to Sir Glynne Earle Welby-Gregory Denton (1806-75) and listed in the 1864-66 inventory of Harlaxton Manor as in the Tapestry gallery (National Archives, Kew, Ms. J 90/1217).
Not sold in the 1878 sale of contents of Harlaxton.
By descent in the family.
Sold Christie’s, London, 5th July 2012, lot 7:
- 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. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the fair market price.
- Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we 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