Britain's art of losing treasures

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A lack of funding – thanks to £100m being spent on 'saving' two Titians – is going to deprive the British public of several more outstanding works

Some of the world's most important paintings may be lost to the nation because there are no funds available to keep them here following the purchase of two works by Titian for £100m.

The latest artwork poised to join the exodus of masterpieces is St John the Evangelist by the Italian Old Master Domenichino. Despite being in the UK for the past 100 years, the painting is likely to leave the country – a situation described as "lamentable" by one art expert – because funds that could have kept it in Britain were used last year to help the National Gallery buy the Titians.

Some experts fear the Titian purchases could tie up art funds for the next five years. Last week the culture minister Margaret Hodge slapped an export ban on the Domenichino, which was bought by an anonymous bidder in December for £9.2m, on the grounds of its "outstanding aesthetic importance".

The export ban will give UK institutions two months to raise the money to buy it. But there is no money left in the public art pot after £50m was raised by the national galleries of England and Scotland to buy Titian's Diana and Actaeon. The galleries are committed to raising another £50m in the next two years to buy a second Titian, Diana and Callisto, from the Duke of Sutherland. The National Gallery of Scotland announced on Friday that the two paintings will spend almost a year in America to raise money.

Professor David Ekserdjian, of the Government's Reviewing Committee, which examines art sales, said: "It is the best work by the artist remaining in private hands and its departure from the UK would be lamentable."

St John the Evangelist, painted in the 1620s, had been owned by the Christie family who run the Glyndebourne Opera festival, since the 19th century. The £9.2m it raised at auction in December was a record for the Baroque artist.

At the same auction a Raphael drawing – Head of a Muse – which has been in Britain since the 1930s, sold to a US collector for £29.2m, a record for any work on paper. An export ban has also been placed on it. The head is a draft drawing for a Vatican commission and is considered a "unique record of Raphael's original artistic vision".

A National Gallery spokeswoman said: "It is inevitable that putting resources into the acquisition of Diana and Actaeon may result in having to turn down other opportunities, but the painting is so important that we are willing to accept this."

Lost...

1. Raphael's Head of a Muse The "exquisite" drawing from 1510 – a preparation for a commission by Pope Julius II – looks likely to be on its way to America after being bought for a record £29.2m, even though "every possible effort should be made to raise enough money to keep it in the country".

2. Turner's Pope's Villa at Twickenham One of Turner's most important works is already in America after an export ban last year failed to find any institutions willing or able to pay the £5.4m the 1808 painting was worth.

3. Domenichino's St John the Evangelist It will be "lamentable" if this £9.2m work from 1621-29 left the country after more than 100 years, according to the Reviewing Committee. Lamentable, but likely.

Saved...

4. Titian's Diana and Actaeon A six-month campaign persuaded the public, the Scottish government and the Heritage Lottery Fund to part with £50m to buy the Old Master's work from the Duke of Sutherland last year. Fundraising is due to start shortly to raise the same sum for the companion painting, Diana and Callisto, by 2012. Both were created between 1556 and 1559.

5. Turner's Blue Rigi One of the finest watercolours by one of Britain's greatest painters, an 1842 view of a Swiss mountain, was saved in 2007 after the Tate raised £4.95m.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little