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Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 17:18 GMT
Export ban for Michelangelo work
Study of a Mourning Woman
Study of a Mourning Woman by Michelangelo
The government has placed an export ban on a rare early pen and ink study by Michelangelo to try and keep it in the UK.

Study of a Mourning Woman, which is believed to date from the late 15th Century, was sold to an anonymous US collector earlier this year.

It had languished undiscovered in a castle in the north of England for over 200 years before being sold to a London dealer, Jean-Luc Baroni, for more than 5.9m in 2001.

Mr Baroni then sold the study to the US collector in March.

Now Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone has placed a bar on its export to try and raise the 7.5m needed to keep the drawing in the UK.

The ban lasts until 28 January, but could be extended to the end of June 2003 if there is a serious attempt to raise funds to buy the work, which measures 26cm by 16.4cm.

The sketch, in two shades of brown ink with white highlights, was found by chance in an album of otherwise unremarkable drawings at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire, during an insurance valuation.

Surviving

It is thought the study belongs to a small group of large-scale figures which the young Michelangelo is believed to have drawn very early in his career, between about 1490 and 1500.

This was a few years after Michelangelo, who later painted the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, entered the studio of his mentor Domenico Ghirlandaio.

But Michelangelo later disowned his teacher, and he is believed to have destroyed many of his early works.

It is similar to five surviving examples of his early pen studies; one of which, Greek Philosopher, is in the British Museum in London.

Study of a Mourning Woman is thought to have been purchased at a London auction in 1747 at which Henry Howard, the 4th Earl of Carlisle and owner of Castle Howard, was known to have been an active buyer.

See also:

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