Poussin & Hals stopped for export - total £22.75 million

May 11 2011

Image of Poussin & Hals stopped for export - total £22.75 million

Picture: Christie's

The government has issued two temporary export bars in two days; one on a Poussin (Ordination, above, one of the seven sacrament series) at £15m, and the other on a Hals (Family Portrait in a Landscape) at £7.75m.

Who are they kidding? How is any museum in this climate supposed to try and buy the pictures when there are no acquisition funds to speak of? The one body that could help, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, has been cut to just £5m - or one third of a Poussin.

We really are facing a potential crisis over the loss of such paintings - more and more are being sold, and museums have less and less money. There is still time to do something about it, but only if the government directs the Heritage Lottery Fund to look more kindly on acquisitions, a move which would cost nothing. 

The Poussin belongs to the Duke of Rutland, and was offered at auction in December 2010 at Christie's for £15-20m. It failed to sell on the night, but it seems has been sold since at the reserve.

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