UK blocked Benjamin West's painting from leaving the country
UK blocked Benjamin West's p...
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UK blocked Benjamin West's painting from leaving the country

25 November 2022
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UK blocked Benjamin West's painting from leaving the country

Export banned

The UK Ministry of Culture has temporarily banned the overseas export of a painting by Anglo-American artist Benjamin West, Cricketers, due to its "cultural value". This was reported by The Daily Telegraph on Friday.

The decision follows the recommendations of the Export Control Committee for works of art and objects of cultural interest. Experts considered the work, estimated at £1 million, "one of the most important paintings" about cricket, which originated in the 16th century in the south of England.

The painting's current owner, who has not been named, is allegedly planning to sell it in the United States. He disagrees with this position of the ministry and believes that the work has closer ties with the American culture, notes the publication. According to him, the fate of the work will be decided in 2023.

It is worth noting that experts from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's review committee, which advises on art exports, said the work was an early depiction of cricket as a "noble sport", carrying "notions of nobility", making it an important image of the development "from a village sport" to one "taken seriously by aristocratic patrons".

He argued that his subject made the work important to British art and culture, and that it should therefore remain in Britain, but the owner trying to sell the work argued that it had far greater cultural significance to Americans.

Documents submitted to the committee to push for the sale claimed that The Cricketers was "made by an American artist, depicts American objects and was commissioned by an American to be shown in Pennsylvania".

The submission argued that its "importance to British history and national life" was limited to the fact that it was painted in Britain and depicted "cricket-related equipment".

The importance of the equipment was downplayed, with the submission claiming that the cricket bats in the painting were merely artistic "props" that were meant to showcase the "cosmopolitan features of American boys" at school in the UK, rather than a genuine sporting scenario.

Previously, the authorities of the United Kingdom repeatedly imposed a temporary ban on the export of works of art in other countries.

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