Turner masterpiece worth £10 million assigned temporary export ban

A temporary export ban has been placed on a Turner masterpiece in the hope that funds can be raised to buy it and keep it in the UK. 

The £10 million watercolour painting, The Dark Rigi, the Lake of Lucerne, depicts a scene in the Swiss mountains at dawn and is the only remaining work from the Rigi series – Turner’s three paintings of the Rigi mountain. 

There are currently fears that the artwork, created in 1842, could be exported for sale abroad, which arts minister Rebecca Pow said would be a “terrible loss to the whole country”, the BBC reports.

Turner, who was born in London in 1775, is considered one of the greatest figures in the history of landscape painting.

Ms Pow, who has been in her current post since May, made her decision after advice from the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.

The committee’s job is to advise the government on exporting cultural property, for instance, if an artwork is sold to a foreign buyer and the committee believes there should be time allotted for a British buyer to raise funds and keep it into the UK.

“Turner is one of Britain’s greatest ever artists and The Dark Rigi is a beautiful and emotive work painted at the pinnacle of his career,” Ms Pow said.

“This work is of national importance and if it were to go abroad it would be a terrible loss to the country.

“I hope that by placing a temporary export bar, we can ensure that funds can be raised to save The Dark Rigi for the nation so it is able to go on public display.”

The Blue Rigi, another work in the series, was bought in 2007 and now belongs to the Tate. 

The export ban on The Dark Rigi runs until 1 December. If serious efforts are made to raise the £10m funds to purchase the artwork, the export bar may be extended until 1 June 2020.

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