Press release

Culture Minister defers export of painting of Venice by Francesco Guardi

Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on 'Venice, A View of the Rialto Bridge from the Fondamenta del Carbon'

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

This will provide a limited period in which to raise the money to keep the painting in the United Kingdom. 

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 painting is of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of the development of Guardi, Venetian view painting, and Grand Tour patronage and taste.

The painting, which dates from the mid 18th century (c.1768), depicts a busy stretch of the Grand Canal around the Rialto Bridge - the commercial hub of Venice - under an expanse of luminous blue sky. This mature work demonstrates the artist’s skill at creating visual drama and atmosphere by recording the delicate play of light on buildings and water. Influenced by Canaletto, Guardi was the last great native view painter of Venice. All subsequent artists depicting the city were inspired by his example, perhaps especially Turner.

Simon Swynfen Jervis, Reviewing Committee member, said:

“This noble painting represents Francesco Guardi on the grand scale, emulating Canaletto and Bellotto. Whether it was patterns of patronage or his own inclination which later impelled him towards a smaller scale and lighter touch, this View of the Rialto demonstrates that in 1768 he could impress as well as delight.”

The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending on 16 January 2012 inclusive. This period may be extended until 16 July 2012 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the painting at the recommended price of £26,697,250 is expressed [final purchase price will be plus VAT, exact amount to be confirmed, which can be reclaimed by most public museums].

Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered by the Culture Minister. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefit to both parties through the sharing of tax advantages.

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the painting 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
0207 973 5259

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

Notes to Editors

  1. An image of the painting is available in our ‘export bar’ album on flickr.

  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 0207 973 5259, email

  3. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, administered 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 fair market price.

  4. The details of the painting are:

Francesco Guardi (Venice, 1712-1793)
Venice: A View of the Rialto Bridge from the Fondamenta del Carbon, circa 1768
Oil on canvas
120 x 203.7 cm

  1. Further details about the painting can be found in the auction catalogue.

  2. 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.

For all media enquiries please contact:
Louise Wylie, Director, Media Relations, Arts Council England, Tel: 020 7973 5528 or

Press Enquiries: 020 7211 2210
Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153
Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6000

Published 17 October 2011