Domenichino’s Saint John Evangelist on loan to the National Gallery in London

21/06/10 – Loan – London, National Gallery – Last September (see news item of 22/09/09), we spoke of two important Old Master paintings which English museums would have liked to see remain on British soil. The first was a Saint Sebastian by Cornelis van Haarlem (ill. 1). Neither a museum nor a private collector was able to retain this beautiful work of Dutch Mannerism so that its export authorization was finally issued.

1. Cornelis van Haarlem (1562-1638)
Saint Sebastian, c. 1591-1592
Oil on canvas - 146.7 x 105.4 cm
Localisation unknown
Photo : MLA

2. Domenico Zampieri,
called Domenichino (1581-1641)
Saint John Evangelist, c. 1627-1629
Oil on canvas - 250 x 200 cm
Unitef Kingdom, private collection
In deposit at the National Gallery of London
until november 2011
Photo : Christie’s

At the time we had mentioned that the Saint John Evangelist by Domenichino (ill. 2), which was to be auctioned off at Christie’s London on 8 December 2009 would probably also be temporarily banned for export. After selling for £9,225,250 (including charges) to a foreign bidder, the painting was indeed kept in the United Kingdom thanks to a ministry order dated 3 February 2010.
None of the English museums was able to come up with the needed amount, but a British collector did come forward to acquire it in the end. The English system, in fact allows a private individual to purchase a work which is banned for export if he offers to pay the requested price, in this case the one corresponding exactly to the final bid at the auction. The new owner therefore took the place of the Christie’s buyer, making this in a way a preemption right for a private individual. In exchange, the collector must accept to show the work to the public at least 100 days a year and not sell it for five years unless a new buyer offers the same price. The purpose of this measure is obviously to allow museums the time to come up with enough money to buy it themselves.
The painting has been on deposit at the National Gallery in London, room 32, since last 10 May and will remain there for 18 months, that is until 10 November 2011 [1]. We hope that this establishment will be able to raise the needed funds to purchase it before the 2015 deadline.

Didier Rykner, lundi 21 juin 2010


[1] This will make for a total of 540 days, given that the owner was to display it at least 500 days over a five-year period.

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