Getty Secures Export License for "Modern Rome—Campo Vaccino"

JMW Turner “Modern Rome—Campo Vaccino”, soon on display at the Getty

This landscape by JMW Turner has been granted an export license from the UK Culture Ministry. The painting had been on display for the last thirty years at the National Galleries in Scotland, on loan from the Primrose family. For me, the work fit well in Edinburgh, echoing nicely that city’s neoclassical architecture. It was always one of my favorites, a reason to stop in to Scotland’s national gallery. Turner’s depictions of classical ruins and renaissance buildings echoed Edinburgh’s own neoclassical features. Now the work is on its way to Los Angeles.

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

The UK has a limited export restriction scheme, which temporarily halts the export of a work if it falls under one of the three Waverley Criteria:

  1. Is it so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune?
  2. Is it of outstanding aesthetic importance?
  3. Is it of outstanding significance for the study of some particular branch of art, learning or history?

If a work can fall under any one of these three categories, export will be temporarily restricted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) so a UK buyer can raise enough money to keep the work in the UK. This work was purchased for $44.9 million at an auction in Sotheby’s last year. Will there be calls to amend the limited export regime as more works of art leave? In the past the UK had been more willing to continue to delay export, and even to offer more funding to help domestic buyers match foreign prices and ensure works of art remain in the. But austerity may be changing that. As Mike Boehm speculates

But “Modern Rome” is coming, perhaps a sign that at a time of austerity in Great Britain, a domestic arts economy that’s far more reliant on government funding than in the United States could not muster the wherewithal to take the painting away from the privately and lavishly endowed Getty. In 2004, according to a BBC report, the British government anted up more than half the money to match the Getty’s bid for “Madonna of the Pinks,” tapping a fund from lottery receipts that’s earmarked for cultural purposes.

  1. Mike Boehm, Getty Museum’s $44.9-million purchase of J.M.W. Turner masterpiece is final as sale clears U.K. export hurdle, LA Times Culture Monster, February 3, 2011, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/02/getty-jmw-turner-masterpiece.html (last visited Feb 4, 2011).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

1 thought on “Getty Secures Export License for "Modern Rome—Campo Vaccino"”

  1. It was never likely that anyone would pay to keep the Turner in Britain, though the Tate could have done so (keeping it with its companion picture in the Turner Bequest) if it had used the £25 million it got from the insurance deal over the two Turners stolen in 1994 instead of spending that on other purposes, illegitimately according to some legal opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *