A £1.5million pair of portraits by neoclassical Swiss painter Angelica Kauffman is threatening to leave Britain’s shores unless a buyer is found.
The artwork, which depicts Mr. and Mrs. Joseph May and their children and dates to 1780, has been placed on a temporary export ban to give a buyer time to come forward.
It is hoped that a UK gallery or institution will purchase the pieces.
The two paintings depict a gender-segregated family, making them unique in Kauffman’s work, where families are usually depicted together.
Their known collection of around 800 pieces shows no further evidence of this format.
Whitley Bay Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said: “Angelica Kauffman was one of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy.
“These intriguing portraits are highly unusual for their time and show a gender-segregated family in the 18th century.
“I hope a buyer comes forward so they can remain in the UK and we can continue to learn more about these exceptional works of art.”
The Committee of Experts on the Export of Art and Cultural Property, which recommended the decision, noted that the female group and its allusion to the Virgin Mary were “particularly beautiful”.
video of the day
Committee member Professor Mark Hallett said: “Angelica Kauffman was one of the most important British painters of the late 18th century and this is a particularly interesting example of her work.
“Although the artist is rightly celebrated for her subjects, Kauffman’s portraits are equally complex and ambitious in character.
“This double portrait of the May family, depicting Mary May with her daughters and Joseph May with his sons, is extremely unusual in separating its male and female subjects in such a direct manner.
They make a powerful contribution to our understanding of Georgian portraitureProfessor Mark Hallett
“At the same time, Kauffman’s skilful handling of composition ensures that the two images complement each other elegantly.
“In addition to a strong aesthetic appeal, the images offer a sensitive pictorial meditation on parental and sibling relationships and on the various stages of childhood.
“For all these reasons, they make an important contribution to our understanding of Georgian portraiture.”
The decision on the export license application will be postponed until July 24th.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/export-ban-placed-on-highly-unusual-angelica-kauffman-family-paintings-41487892.html Export ban imposed on “highly unusual” paintings by the Angelica Kauffman family