Arts minister Rebecca Pow placed the temporary bar on the picture after an export application was made. The painting was sold at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern art auction in London on February 26 for a hammer price of £24m.
Sotheby’s said at the time that the price was an auction record for a Venetian view by Monet (1840-1926).
The majority of Monet’s Venice scenes are now in museums, but this picture had remained in the same family since 1925 when it was acquired by Erich Goeritz, a Berlin-based textile manufacturer who built a famous collection of Impressionist and Modern art.
Monet visited Venice only once, arriving in October 1908 with his second wife Alice, and declaring the canalled city “too beautiful to paint”. He did, however, paint around 40 works during his three-month stay and they now form a relatively small group of pictures in the artist’s oeuvre – certainly much smaller than the 250 works in his later waterlilies series.
The artist worked on this particular canvas in situ during the 1908 visit but it is thought that the work was completed at his home in Giverny during 1911-12.
The asking price of £28.2m is the auction price including fees and VAT.
Arts minister Rebecca Pow said: “Monet is one of the world’s most famous and celebrated artists and his works still resonate more than 100 years on. This is a rare and beautiful example of Monet’s Venetian studies and I hope that the funds can be raised to keep this treasure in the UK.”
Outstanding aesthetic importance
The decision to block the exportation of the picture follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The committee noted that examples of the artist’s post 1900 travelling works are rare in UK public collections.
The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds of the painting’s outstanding aesthetic importance.
Committee member Aidan Weston-Lewis said: “This exceptional painting brilliantly demonstrates the pivotal status of Monet’s later art between impressionist representation and modernist abstraction… This would be a highly desirable and no doubt very popular addition to any public collection in the UK.”
The decision on the application will be deferred until November 8 and may be extended until May 8, 2020.
In a statement, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: “Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefits to a public institution wishing to acquire.”