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To rescue a Raphael...

04 April 2013

Categories:
Museums and Libraries

One of the greatest Italian Renaissance drawings in a UK private collection is at risk of leaving the UK, following its sale to an overseas buyer and a subsequent application to export the work abroad.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on the study to provide a last chance to raise the £29,721,250 needed to keep the drawing in the UK.

Head of a Young Apostle, (c. 1519-1520) is a cartoon (i.e. a same-size study) for the head of one of the figures in Raphael’s Transfiguration altarpiece in the Vatican, the last and arguably most dramatic of the artist’s altarpieces. Raphael was one of the greatest European draughtsman and the cartoons he created for the Transfiguration are regarded as some of his most beautiful drawings.

The drawing was one of the greatest remaining Italian Renaissance drawings at Chatsworth collected by William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire (1672-1729) and there is evidence that it may previously have belonged to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585–1646) ‘the first heroic figure in the history of British collecting’.

Raphael producing highly detailed tonal drawings to act as guides for him and his workshop to paint the heads of key protagonists in his paintings. The study is a stunning example of this specialist type of drawing that beautifully demonstrates the signal importance of drawing in Raphael’s creative process.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

“I hope that placing a temporary export bar on the Raphael will allow time for a UK buyer to come forward and secure this magnificent example of Raphael’s work for the nation. Last year the Ashmolean Museum pulled off an amazing coup in acquiring Manet’s “Mademoiselle Claus” which was similarly at risk of leaving our shores – I hope that this success can be repeated.”

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), who believe the export decision should be deferred on the grounds of the study’s aesthetic importance and outstanding significance for both the study of Raphael and the history of aristocratic collecting of old master drawing in 18th century Britain.

The decision on the export licence application for the study will be deferred for a period ending on 3 July 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 3 January 2014 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the study at the recommended price of £29,721,250 (plus VAT which can be reclaimed by most institutions).

Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered by Mr Vaizey. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefit to a public institution wishing to acquire the item.
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Notes to editors

  1. An image of the drawing is available on the DCMS flickr account.

  2. Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the study should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.
  3. The details of the study are:
    Raphael (1483-1520)
    Head of a Young Apostle
    , c. 1519-1520
    black chalk
    375 x 278mm

  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.
  1. 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.