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Last chance to keep rare 14th century Italian painting in the UK

Culture Minister places export bar on Giovanni da Rimini panel

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

Export bar- da Rimini

Left Wing of a Diptych with Episodes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, by Giovanni da Rimini

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a rare Italian painting by Giovanni da Rimini from the early 14th century ‘Left Wing of a Diptych with Episodes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints.’ It will be exported overseas unless money can be found to match the asking price of £5,682,500.

The painting is an extremely rare example of the work of Giovanni da Rimini, a leading artist in Rimini at the turn of the thirteenth/fourteenth century, who formed a bridge between the artists of the Assisi fresco cycles, Giotto (who had worked in Rimini) and the Riminese school of the early fourteenth century. The painted panel is the left half of a diptych, the right half of which is in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica (Palazzo Barberini) in Rome. The left half, which until its recent sale had been in the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle since 1853, is more inventive in design than the right, with individual composition and asymmetry, and reveals the artist’s very delicate handling of colour. Among the scenes depicted are: the Apotheosis of St Augustine, the Coronation of the Virgin, and St John the Baptist in the wilderness.

The Minister has deferred granting an export licence for the piece following 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 made their recommendation on the grounds that the painting is an exceptionally beautiful and important work, rich in detail and representing a key moment in the development of Western European art.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

This is an incredibly rare and beautiful painting that is in exceptionally good condition. The original paint surface is extremely well preserved and it would be a great shame if such a unique work of art were lost to the nation.

I hope that serious efforts can be made to raise funds for a matching offer to keep the painting here in the UK where it belongs.

Aidan Weston-Lewis from the RCEWA said:

This jewel-like, exquisitely preserved, seven hundred-year old panel is by a good margin the most important example in the UK of the seminal Riminese school of painting. Although this country can boast impressive collections of early Italian art, there is nothing comparable to this in any British public collection.

The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending at midnight on 28 January 2015. This period may be extended until 28 June 2015 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the piece is made at the recommended price of £5,682,500 (plus VAT which could be reclaimed by an eligible institution).

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 a public institution wishing to acquire the item.


  1. Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the works should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.

  2. Details of the painting are as follows: Left Wing of a Diptych with Episodes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, by Giovanni da Rimini (documented 1292-1309) .Tempera on panel, gold ground in an engaged frame, 52.5cm by 34.3cm

  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.

  4. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. Between 2010 and 2015, it will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

  5. An image of the painting can be found on our flickr

Published 29 October 2014