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Culture Minister defers export of rare marble sculpture of Venus by John Nost the Elder

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a sculpture by John Nost the Elder, The Crouching Venus.

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

This will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep the sculpture 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 sculpture is of outstanding significance for the study of English sculpture in the 18th Century.

The white marble sculpture dates from 1702 and depicts the nude goddess Venus with her arms crossed, head turned to the right and half kneeling on a rectangular base. The figure is based on an antique prototype known as the Crouching Venus and may have been modelled on an antique work in the Royal Collection.  It is a rare surviving example of a classical subject in marble carved by the Netherlandish sculptor John Nost the Elder (d. 1710) working in England.

Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Reviewing Committee, said: “This impressive and compelling figure of the goddess Venus is an important example of one of the earliest versions in England of an antiquity in marble, made for a British client.”

The decision on the export licence application for the sculpture 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 sculpture at the recommended price of £485,000 (plus VAT, amount to be confirmed, which can be reclaimed by most public institutions).

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the sculpture 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

Tel: 020 7973 5259

Anyone interested in making a matching offer who requires further information from the Champion about  the sculpture 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 Emma Russell, Media Relations Officer, Arts Council England  on 020 7973 6890, email:

  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

  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 object are:

    • John Nost the Elder (active 1680s- d. 1710)
    • The Crouching Venus (1702)
    • signed and dated: I. Nost .. F/1702
    • marble
    • total height:   237 cm
    • statue height:  122 cm
    • plinth height:   115cm

Probably commissioned by Andrew Archer for Umberslade Hall in 1702
First positively documented at Umberslade Hall in 1815 Umberslade Hall was acquired by the Muntz family in 1856.
Acquired by Thomas Coulborn & Sons from Robert Muntz Esq. in October 2007

The earliest existing documentation for the statue being at Umberslade Hall dates to 1815, when the Hall was described as “long-neglected”, and indeed had not been regularly occupied since 1778 so it is logical to suppose that the Venus must have been there some time before the death of the 2nd Lord Archer in 1778. While some internal decoration did take place in the time of Andrew Archer’s son Thomas (1st Lord Archer), who inherited in 1741, it is much more likely that the statue was commissioned by his father Andrew in 1702 as the house was constructed c. 1693-98.

I. Roscoe, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851, New Haven, 2009
Tyack, Geoffrey, Warwickshire Country Houses, Phillimore & Co., 1994, page 190

  1. 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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Published 4 November 2011