Minister Michael Blocks £3.4 million Turner leaving the Country

As the Government’s Arts Minister I work tirelessly to ensure that our national interest is maintained when it comes to art and heritage in this country.

Historic pieces of art contribute to our national identity and I do feel a strong sense of pride in the art produced by UK artists – which is why I regularly act to keep precious art here in the UK. One of the powers that I can exercise is a Temporary Export Bar which is a mechanism used to prevent pieces of art from leaving the country. When someone purchases a piece of art they must apply for a license to take it out of the country and the Temporary Export Bar will temporarily stop the artwork from leaving the country for a finite period of time, during which a UK buyer is sought.

I recently exercised this power by blocking an original oil painting by the famous artist J.M.W Turner – or more contemporarily known as William Turner. The oil painting, Walton Bridges (which you can see in the photo to the left) was believed to have been painted in 1806 and is understood to be the first Turner completed in open air. Indeed, Turner himself was among the first artists to sketch directly from nature so this painting is truly historic in that sense. The painting shows a double-span bridge that ran across the River Thames between the locks at Sunbury and Shepperton in Surrey. The painting was recently valued at £3.4 million and the Temporary Export Bar means that it will not leave the country for a finite period of time (unless a serious UK buyer is found) in the hope that a buyer from the UK will be found to keep it in this country. Turner is one of Britain’s greatest ever artists and Walton Bridges is a fine example of his distinctive style and fascination with British landscape.

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