The Big Question: Should Turner's 'Blue Rigi' and other masterpieces be saved for Britain?





Why are we asking this question now?

Tate galleries have launched a campaign to buy The Blue Rigi, a late-period watercolour by the great British artist JMW Turner. The work was sold at auction in June to an anonymous bidder who paid £5.8m - three times the expected price. The new owner was required under British laws to apply for an export licence to remove the work from UK.

The body responsible for considering the application, the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, awarded the painting a starred rating - the highest level of protection - and recommended the export be deferred.

The Culture Minister, David Lammy, responded by imposing a temporary export ban on the painting, giving organisations until March 2007 to match the price paid at auction in the summer to keep it in the UK. Unfortunately, Tate has only £2m to put towards the purchase, and is looking to the publicly funded National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, an independent charity, to make up the difference.


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