Rare allegorical painting from the 17th century English school banned from export in the hope that it would be saved for the nation

The double portrait of the English school, circa 1650, whose export from the United Kingdom has been temporarily blocked.

The image was sold on 23 June at the Trevanion auction house in Shropshire for a hammer price of £ 220,000 (front page, ATG No 2499).

After the sale, the current owner applied for an export license. This request was temporarily refused in hopes of finding a buyer in the UK. Including charges and VAT, £ 272,800 is the amount to be raised.

The government made the move after the Export Review Committee for Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) argued that the UK painting’s departure “would be a shame because it is of exceptional importance for the study of race and gender. in the 17th century ”.

“Race and gender”

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: ‘This fascinating painting has a lot to teach us about England in the 17th century, including in important areas of race and gender, which rightly continue to attract attention and research today. I hope that a gallery or museum in the UK can be found to purchase this painting for the nation, so that many more people can participate in the research and discussion that is going on.

RCEWA committee members Pippa Shirley and Christopher Baker argued that the anonymous painting is a “great rarity” because it “depicts a black woman and a white woman with equal status”.

They add: time. “

The decision on the application for an export license for the paint will be deferred until March 9, 2022 and may be further deferred for three months.

The 2’1 ” x 2’6 ” (64 x 75 cm) oil on canvas belonged to the collection of Lloyd Tyrell-Kenyon, 6th Baron Kenyon, who died in 2019. It was in the hands of the local Trevanion auction house and had been kept for at least a century in Gredington, the family-owned Shropshire mansion which was demolished in 1980.

The “puritan’s warning” in the picture is implied by the inscription above the women which reads: i black with white bespott y white with black, this evil is coming from your proud heart, then take- la: devil.

The photo shows the women wearing patches that have been used for centuries to cover scars, wounds and pustules, including those caused by venereal diseases such as syphilis. But during the 17th and 18th centuries, these patches, especially those made from expensive materials like silk or velvet, were also worn as adornments and were cut into decorative shapes, as can be seen here.

The fashion apparently became quite widespread and was associated with vanity and promiscuity by the Puritans. In 1650, Parliament debated the adoption of a law against “the vice of painting and wearing black spots and the shameless dress of women.” Although this was not passed into law, a broader crackdown occurred against “prostitution” and licentious behavior during Cromwell’s reign.


A number of other items for which an export bar was issued this year were carried over, including two albums of drawings, watercolors and lithographs by 19th century ornithologist John Gould (valued at 1.28 million pounds sterling); The Nativity of Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi; Marble busts of Aristotle and Homer attributed to Giuliano Finelli and the Earl of Dalhousie by John Singer Sargent.

An export block on a gold finial that once adorned Tipu Sultan’s throne runs until at least February 2022 (ATG 2519).

Tipu Sultan's gold flagship

There is a temporary export block on this gold finial that once adorned the throne of Tipu Sultan until at least February 2022.

Other items from this year that will be leaving the UK after export licenses have been approved due to unraised funds include a rare Renaissance cockade from Mantua depicting Venus, Mars, Cupid and Vulcan (as reported in ATG n ° 2496) which had been valued at £ 20million.

Renaissance cockade

This rare Renaissance cockade from around 1480-1500, valued at £ 20million, was not spared for the nation and can be exported outside the UK.

Additionally, Art Council England has updated nationally accepted items from the Cultural Gift and Acceptance Programs instead. He said items worth £ 52million had been accepted for the nation and allocated to museums across the UK.

These works include the oil painting Portrait of a Woman (1621-27) by Sir Anthony Van Dyck which has been attributed to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow; Walton Bridge by JMW Turner going to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and Mary Fedden’s sketchbooks towards the Tate.

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