BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 12:27 GMT
Export ban on Reynolds portrait
Portrait of Omai
The subject was brought to Britain from Polynesia
A temporary bar has been placed on the export of a painting by 18th Century artist Sir Joshua Reynolds in the hope it can stay in Britain.

Minister of State for the Arts Tessa Blackstone has placed a block on Reynolds' Portrait of Omai leaving the country while a potential buyer is sought.

The painting, featuring a Polynesian boy brought to Britain in 1774, was sold at auction in 2001 for 10.3m, setting a record for the artist.

We think it unfortunate that it has not now been put on display in a more accessible location

Nicolas Serota, Tate director

But potential bidders face paying up to 12.5m to secure its future in Britain.

It is currently in storage at Christie's auction house in London.

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art has recommended options should be explored for keeping the painting in Britain, deferring an export decision.

Most important

The ban is in place because of the historical value of the painting, made at a time of great voyages of exploration and discovery in Australasia.

The outstanding importance of the portrait in relation to the study of Reynolds' art and to cultural studies in general was also cited as a reason for keeping the picture in the UK.

Sir Joshua Reynolds
Reynolds was considered a master of his trade

It is also considered one of Reynold's most important pieces.

The export of the Portrait of Omai has been put off until 17 March, 2003, with a recommended price of 12.5m to be paid to the owner.

If there is a serious intention to buy the picture then the deadline could be extended to 17 September.

London's Tate Gallery attempted to buy the picture last year but had its offer rejected.

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said: "We firmly believe that Portrait Of Omai should stay in this country, and we were very disappointed not to have been able to acquire the work before it went to auction.

"We think it unfortunate that it has not now been put on display in a more accessible location, so that people and institutions have a proper chance toview the work and appreciate its national importance."

Celebrated artist

Omai was discovered by explorers on an island near Tahiti and brought back to England in 1774, where his exotic looks led him to be feted as a noble savage by London society.

Reynolds, who was president of the Royal Academy of Arts, was given the opportunity to paint Omai, probably because he was such a celebrated artist.

He kept the painting in the gallery attached to his London home.

After his death it was bought by Frederick, the 5th Earl of Carlisle, a patron and close friend of Reynolds.

The painting was installed at Castle Howard in 1776, where it remained until 2001.

Much of Reynolds' work has suffered because of his experimentation with bitumen and poor restoration, but Omai has remained in excellent condition with original glazes intact.

See also:

01 Dec 01 | Entertainment
10 Sep 02 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes