News story

Export bar for 19th Century eccentric's 'remarkable' cabinet

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

Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a William IV oak cabinet made for millionaire collector William Beckford.

This offers a last chance to raise the money to keep it in the UK.

The Culture Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by MLA. The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the cabinet is of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of the history of furniture, history of collecting and the study of William Beckford.

Creative genius

This oak cabinet on stand, with gilt-bronze mounts, a glass-panelled door and silk lined interior was made for Beckford for the Scarlet Drawing Room at Lansdown Tower, Bath, between 1831 and 1841. The design of all the interiors and the furnishings at Lansdown Tower was a project of Beckford’s old age, but one that proved the culmination of his creative genius.

Simon Swynfen Jervis, Reviewing Committee member, said: ”This remarkable discovery formed part of a unified decorative scheme directed by that supreme collector, William Beckford, and is a quintessential document of his last and arguably most original phase.”

The decision on the export licence application for the garniture will be deferred for a period ending on 8 May 2011, which can be extended if a serious intention to raise funds toward the £285,000 purchase price is expressed.

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