Michael Mazarind tapestry
This tapestry, by 17th century weaver Michael Mazarind, is thought to have been made between 1696 and 1702 in London. Matt Hancock, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, is hoping to find a buyer to pay £67,500 to prevent it from leaving the country.

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Culture minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on the rare tapestry by 17th century weaver Michael Mazarind in the hope of keeping it in the UK.

The anonymous owner of the tapestry, who applied for the export licence after acquiring the object in a private sale, argued in their submission it was not a “national treasure” as defined by the Waverley Criteria. The owner stated: “We don’t believe it is of outstanding aesthetic importance since there have been significant alterations made to it.”

The owner added: “It is not of significance for study and there are several other examples of Vanderbank tapestries in public collections including in the V&A.”

However the case was considered by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) on September 14 which argued its importance as it is a signed example of Mazarind’s work.

“Mysterious Michael Mazarind”

Christopher Rowell, a member of the RCEWA, which is administered by The Arts Council, said: “It is the only one to bear the woven signature of the mysterious Michael Mazarind, who was a rival of the more well-known London tapestry weaver, John Vanderbank… Saving the tapestry for the nation will allow specialists to study it in detail and help to reconstruct Mazarind’s contribution to tapestry production in early-Georgian London.”

The tapestry was inspired by Indian, Chinese and Japanese design and is the only known surviving tapestry to feature Mazarind’s mark. There is very little documentation of his workshop, but it is believed he was based in Portugal Street, London, between 1696 and 1702. Mazarind was relatively unknown, but is said to have connections to Vanderbank, the Soho-based weaver.   

Hancock said: “This intricate design provides us with a unique opportunity to explore the tapestry workshops of 1600s London. I hope we are able to keep it in the country so we can learn more about our nation’s textile industry.”

A decision has been deferred until January and could be extended until April next year if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport also said offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price may be considered.