UK Risks Losing £15m Veronese Drawing

Veronese, Venice TriumphantA 400-year-old drawing by Paolo Veronese is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £15,400,000 (plus VAT of £154,000).

To provide an opportunity to keep it in the UK, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP has placed a temporary export bar on Venice Triumphant.

The work is a preparatory drawing for one of Veronese’s most famous paintings, Apotheosis of Venice.  Following two disastrous fires in 1574 and 1577 at the Doge’s Palace, the Venetian government commissioned Veronese and several other local artists to redecorate the Palace.  The finished painting, completed around 1582, occupies one of three large ceiling compartments in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, the Palace’s most important stateroom.

There are only three existing drawings related to the commission to redecorate the Palace and Venice Triumphant is the largest and also the most important of the only two surviving preparatory drawings for Veronese’s finished paintings.  Experts believe Veronese used the drawing to experiment with the composition of the painting, rather than for the patron’s approval.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said, “This rare drawing provides us with a remarkable insight into how Veronese created one of his most famous works.  I hope we can find a buyer to keep this beautiful artwork here in the UK.”

The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by Arts Council England.

The RCEWA made their recommendation on the grounds of its outstanding aesthetic importance, its connection with one of the most important commissions of Veronese’s career, and its status as the most impressive of his few surviving modelli.

RCEWA member Aidan Weston-Lewis said, “This spectacular sheet offers a fascinating insight into the working method of one of the foremost artists of the Venetian Renaissance.  One can only marvel at the brilliance of the way he conjured up with a few swift strokes of the brush the multitudes of allegorical figures floating before a grandiose, steeply foreshortened architectural structure.  Everything is orchestrated to express the power and glory of the Venetian Republic.”

The decision on the export licence application for the drawing will be deferred until 28th June 2016.  This may be extended until 28th December 2016 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the drawing is made at the recommended price of £15,400,000 (plus VAT of £154,000).

Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the drawing should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.


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