Press release

Culture Minister defers export of important piece of Neo-classical furniture

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a North Italian Empire Athenienne. 

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a North Italian Empire Athenienne.  This will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep the piece in the UK. 

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by Arts Council England. The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the athenienne is of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of 19th Century furniture, the influence of antique design and  the study of the rise of Milan as a centre of design and manufacture in the early 19th Century.

This ornate wash basin on stand, known as an athenienne, was designed by Luigi Manfredini and made in Milan in 1813. Produced when Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ruled much of Europe, this highly decorative object may possibly have been given to the French Imperial Family by Napoleon’s stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy. Made in the Neo-classical style it is based upon a Roman tripod stand discovered at Herculaneum on 18 July 1748 and is decorated with ormolu mounts and the vibrant blue stone lapis lazuli. The stand is topped by a finely chased sliver-gilt bowl depicting the gods ‘Neptune and Amphitrite’.  

Philippa Glanville, Reviewing Committee member, said:

“This exquisite and impressive object is a fascinating example of the influence of antique design on Italian furniture and metalwork in the early 19th Century.”

The decision on the export licence application for the athenienne will be deferred for a period ending on 3 January 2012 inclusive. This period may be extended until 3 May 2012 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the athenienne at the recommended price of £632,940 (inclusive of VAT) is expressed. 

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the athenienne should contact the owner’s agent through:
 
The Secretary
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
Arts Council England
14 Great Peter Street
London
SW1P 3NQ

Tel: 020 7973 5259

Anyone interested in making a matching offer who requires further information from the Champion about the athenienne should contact The Secretary to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest at the above address.

Notes to Editors

  1. For all media enquiries please contact Emma Russell, Media Relations Officer,  Arts Council England on  0207 973 6890, email: emma.russell@artscouncil.org.uk

  2. For enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact Peter Rowlands, RCEWA Secretary, on 020 7973 5259, email peter.rowlands@artscouncil.org.uk

  3. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the recommended fair market price.

  4. The details of the athenienne are: * A North Italian Empire Ormolu, Silver-Gilt and Lapis Lazuli Athenienne * By Luigi Manfredini, Milan, dated 1813, the Silver-Gilt  Basin marked for Milan, circa 1813 * 81 cm high * 42 cm wide (overall) * 37 cm diameter (bowl)

  5. Further details about the athenienne can be found in the Christie’s auction catalogue.

  6. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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