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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
UK has reprieve to save drawing
Detail from The Risen Christ
Detail from The Risen Christ, bought for 8.1m
The government has placed a bar on the export of a rare Michelangelo drawing to allow time to raise money to buy it.

The Risen Christ - which has been in Britain since the 19th Century - was sold at Christies in July 2000 for a record 8.1m.

Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, Rome
A detail from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican
Now the American owner wants to take the work, but Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone hopes money will be raised to keep it in the UK.

"By placing a temporary bar on its export I hope to provide a chance for matching funds to be raised in this country thereby enabling the drawing to stay in Britain," she said.

The sketch is considered a superb example of the work of one of the greatest artistic geniuses in history.

It is the only known study for one of Michelangelo's major commissions - the marble figure of the Risen Christ in Santa Maria sopra Minerva Rome.

David
Michelangelo's famed sculpture - David
Such a detailed drawing is a relative rarity.

"This Michelangelo drawing is a superb example of the work of one of the greatest Renaissance artists," said Ms Blackstone.

In March, the National Galleries of Scotland launched an appeal to raise money to prevent another Michelangelo from being sold to a private collector or abroad.

That effort failed and the work sold at auction to a private collector.

Michelangelo was a leading figure in the High Renaissanace and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome as well as sculpting such works as David.

Blackstone has also placed temporary bars on the export of a pair of Neoclassical sphinxes, originally from Soho House, Birmingham, and a pair of George I side chairs.

She has set a deadline of 11 November, but this could be extended to March if there is a serious intention to raise the funds to save the works for the nation.

See also:

11 Dec 99 | Europe
Sistine Chapel restored
11 Dec 99 | Europe
In pictures: Sistine glory
11 Jul 01 | Arts
Michelangelo work fetches 5.9m
10 Jul 01 | Arts
Da Vinci sketch fetches 8m
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