Press release

Culture Minister defers export of stunning portrait by Edouard Manet

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 painting by Edouard Manet, Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a painting by Edouard Manet, Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus.  This will provide a last chance 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 portrait was of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of  French painting of the second half of the nineteenth century and in particular the work of Manet, one of the leading Impressionist painters of the period.

The panting, which dates from 1868, depicts Mademoiselle Claus, a friend of the artist, seated on a balcony.  Edouard Manet was one of the leading Impressionist painters of the period and the cropped composition, vibrant colours and bravura brushwork would have been startling in comparison to the traditional French Academic paintings of the period. This unfinished full length portrait - which has only been seen in public once in the last century - was painted by Manet  as part of the process of completing his famous canvas, The Balcony, which hangs in the  Musee d’Orsay, Paris. The portrait was purchased by the American painter John Singer Sargent in 1884 after Manet’s death and has remained in the United Kingdom ever since.

Lowell Libson, Reviewing Committee member, said:

“Manet, one of the most important painters of the 19th Century, had a profound influence on the development of Impressionism and this painting demonstrates his ability to innovate while working with a framework of historical reference and allusion. The painting in its unfinished state adds to its interest, revealing the artist’s creative process, whilst emphasising the haunting beauty of the portrait.”

The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending on 7 February 2012 inclusive. This period may be extended until 7 August 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 £28,350,000 (net of VAT) is expressed.

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

For all media enquiries please contact Sam Gough, Media Relations Officer (Museums and Libraries), on 020 7973 5189, email: sam.gough@artscouncil.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. An image is available on the DCMS Flickr photostream.  

  2. 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
    London
    SW1P 3NQ Tel:0207 973 5259

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

  4. 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 020 793 5259, email peter.rowlands@artscouncil.org.uk

  5. The details of the painting are:
    Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
    Portrait Mademoiselle Claus, 1868
    Oil on canvas
    71 x 43 cm

  6. Provenance:
    Paris, Edouard Manet’s estate (1883, n. 32); the artist’s posthumous sale Paris, Hotel Drouot, 4-5 February 1884, no. 19; purchased there by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925); London, Sargent collection; by descent, London; England, private collection.

  7. Literature:
    Th. Duret 1902, p. 57, fig. 109; J. Meier-Graefe 1912, pl. 104; E. Moreau-Nelaton 1926, I, p. 105, ill. 120; P. Jamot -G. Wildenstein 1932, n. 152; A. Tabarant 1947, p. 154, n. 140; Ch. M. Mount, John Singer Sargent, New York 1955, p. 414; H. Adhemar - M. Serullaz, Musee National du Louvre. Catalogue des Peintures, Pastels, Sculptures Impressionistes, Paris 1959, n. 202; M. Bodelsen, ‘Early Impressionist Sales’, Burlington Magazine, June 1968, p. 343, n. 19; D. Rouart-S. Orienti 1970, n. 121b ; D. Rouart-D. Wildenstein, Manet, I, 1975, p. 124, n. 133.

  8. Exhibited:
    Manet at Work: An exhibition to mark the centenary of the death of Edouard Manet 1832-1883. The National Gallery, London, 10 August - 9 October 1983, cat. no. 11, illus.

  9. 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 fair market price

  10. Arts Council England (ACE) champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. It supports 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, ACE 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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