News story

Painting deemed "National Treasure" may leave UK

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

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey places temporary export bar on a rare 17th century French painting

The Minister’s ruling provides a last chance to keep Charles Le Brun’s painting, ‘Portrait of Everhard Jabach and family’ in the UK. Unless a matching offer of £7,300,000 can be raised, the painting will be exported.

The painting is a masterpiece of group portraiture and has been described as “a French Las Meninas”. It depicts the banker and collector Everhard Jabach and his family, and reflected in a mirror is a self-portrait of Le Brun himself. Jabach is considered by many to be one of the greatest collectors of paintings and drawings ever, much of his collection is now in the Louvre.

The export bar follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, on the grounds that it is of outstanding aesthetic importance, and that it was of outstanding significance for the study of group portraiture in Europe in the 17th century.

There are very few paintings by Le Brun in British public collections, and none of these is a portrait. Read more about the painting and its importance in the Le Brun Export Bar Press Release (MS Word Document, 94.7KB)

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

This striking work is a brilliant and rare example of the work of an artist at the peak of his portraiture career. It would be a terrible shame if it was to leave our shores permanently and I hope a UK buyer – be it an institution or an individual - can be found in the time permitted.

The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending on 6 May 2014. This period may be extended until 6 October 2014 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the painting is made.