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Now the committee want more funding to be made available, especially through the Heritage Lottery Fund, to help galleries and museums purchase cultural objects.

The committee, who advise the Government on whether to allow outstanding works of art be sold abroad, made 17 recommendations for deferral during the year in the hope that British institutions would raise the money to buy the items. The objects included paintings by Rembrandt, Poussin and Gauguin, Chippendale furniture and a 1908 racing car.

Six of the items, valued at £2.2m, were subsequently kept in the country, having been acquired by museums and galleries. They include a first century AD bronze harness mount (£4000) purchased by the Corinium Museum in Cirencester; three paintings, Mr William Brooke, Mr Willliam Pigot and Mrs William Pigot, by Joseph Wright of Derby, c.1760 (£215,000), purchased by Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery; a gilt-bronze figure of St John the Evangelist, c.1180 (£95,000), purchased by Ipswich and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils; a lady’s secretaire by Thomas Chippendale, 1773 (£650,000), purchased by Leeds Museums and Galleries; a Charles II silver porringer, c.1660, attributed to the workshop of Christian van Vianen (£73,000), purchased by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; and a Roman gold finger ring (£2300), donated by the owner to the British Museum.

A further piece considered by the Committee, Gauguin’s Le Ruisseau, was acquired by a private individual who has placed it on loan at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.