CULTURE minister Margaret Hodge has placed a temporary export ban on Raphael's Head of a Muse after ruling that an attempt should be made to keep the £26m drawing in the UK.
The picture set an auction record both for the artist and for
any work on paper when it sold at Christie's late last year.
The buyer was believed to be the American businessman and money
manager Leon Black, who is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of
Art in New York.
Mrs Hodge accepted the reviewing committee recommendation that
an export licence be deferred on the grounds that "the drawing is
of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance
for the study of Raphael's work".
The committee awarded the drawing a starred rating, meaning that
every possible effort should be made to keep it in the country.
The decision on whether to grant an export licence will now be
deferred until May 25 and may then be extended until November 25 if
a serious intention to raise public funds or interest from a
UK-based private buyer emerges.
The money required is £29,161,250 (the hammer price plus the
buyer's premium), but it seems unlikely that public bodies will
find it easy to raise such an amount at a time when budgets are
It emerged last week that the Department for Culture, Media and
Sport has been under pressure from the Treasury to halve the £10m
allocation to the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The fund has
already pledged £3.3m to the purchase of Titian's Diana and
Actaeon from the Duke of Sutherland.
Raphael's Head of a Muse has been in the UK since at
least 1850 and was consigned to Christie's by the heirs of the
British collector Norman Colville.
The black chalk drawing was a study for a figure in the
Parnassus fresco in the Vatican, considered one of the artist's
Professor David Ekserdjian, a member of the export licence
reviewing committee, said: "The UK is rich in Raphael drawings, but
this is the only auxiliary cartoon related to the Stanza della
"It is important for the study of Raphael's work as a unique
record of his original artistic vision."
By Alex Capon