A temporary export bar has been placed on a late 15th century bronze roundel valued at £17 million.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage has deferred the export of an exceptionally rare Italian roundel created in Mantua more than 500 years ago.
The richly decorated roundel, valued at £17 million, has been expertly crafted from bronze and is in exemplary condition despite its significant age with vibrant silvered features and mercury gilding. Although the artist is not known, experts reviewing the artefact believe it was created by at least two sculptors of significant talent.
Venus, the Roman goddess of Love, is depicted on the roundel surrounded by her lover Mars, husband Vulcan and son Cupid. The mythological references in the design, and the quality of the relief, reveal the sophistication of the patron and the artist’s understanding of the classical past.
The roundel is larger, more complex and more refined than other examples produced in Mantua at the same time which are currently in British collections. The decision to defer the export will give a UK buyer the opportunity to acquire the exceptional piece.
Caroline Dinenage, Culture Minister, said:
The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The committee noted that the size and unique composition made roundel extremely technically interesting, as well as an object of outstanding beauty.
Stuart Lochead, RCEWA Committee member, said:
The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds that, as well as being breath-taking in both beauty and grandeur, the roundel was significant for the study of North Italian bronze sculpture in the late 15th century and the history of English collecting in the mid-18th century when it first arrived in Britain.
The decision on the export licence application for the roundel will be deferred until 27 September 2021. This may be extended until 27 March 2022 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £17,000,000 plus VAT of £3,400,000.
Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered by the Minister for Digital and Culture. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefit to a public institution wishing to acquire the item.