The U.K. government has placed a temporary export ban on a painting by Nicholas Poussin that has been in the country for more than two centuries and is worth £19 million ($23 million).
The work titled Confirmation (ca. 1637-40), which depicts a group of children making religious affirmations in a ceremony before a priest and being watched over by their families, is being put up for sale by British noble and 11th Duke of Rutland, David Manners, the Telegraph first reported. A representative for Manners, who oversees a trust that owns the works, said the potential sale will allow the owning entity’s trustees to invest in the preservation efforts around the familial Leicester estate.
Poussin produced Confirmation as part of the late 17th century series, “The Seven Sacraments,” which each depict Christian scenes. The grouping was initially commissioned for the Roman scholar and arts patron Cassiano dal Pozzo. The present work first passed through Dal Pozzo’s heirs and eventually to another prominent Italian family, who sold it in the late 18th century to Manner’s relative. The work has been in the U.K. for 240 years.
Christopher Baker, an expert on the UK reviewing committee, which is administered by the Arts Council of England and oversees the export of art works of national importance, said in a statement that the works from the series were “revolutionary” for the time and that “their restrained classicism had a profound impact on many later artists.”
The UK government’s export bar allows time for a gallery or museum to acquire the work in order to keep it from leaving the country. The buyer must match its $23 million value. The decision on the export license application for the painting will be deferred until January 9, 2023, after which the painting’s owner will consider offers from buyers.
“Every effort should be made to support this endeavour, Baker added in a statement. “Such a moving painting would represent a powerful addition to the artist’s works in U.K. collections.”