Matt Hancock the Culture Minister has placed a temporary export bar on a rare drawing by Titian to provide an opportunity to keep it in the country. The drawing, Study of a Kneeling Man, is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £4.4 million (plus VAT of £81,400). It is one of only nine drawings by Titian in the UK. Experts believe it is a preparatory drawing for the first version of Pentecost, which was a painting commissioned for the church of Santo Spirito in Isola in 1529. However, Titian made little progress and in 1541 the monks had to remind him of the commission.
By 1543 the paint had already begun peeling from his work and when the monks complained, Titian removed the original version and painted another from scratch. The original Pentecost has never been found. The study was drawn in black chalk on blue paper, a technique made popular by Titian, and later adopted by Venetian artists, such as Tintoretto and Veronese. This style became known as one of the most distinctive features of Venetian draughtsmanship. Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said:
This drawing provides us with a rare sight of one of Titian’s lost works of art. It is of outstanding significance to the study of Titian, and I hope that we are able to keep it in the country to learn more about one of the greatest artists of the 16th century. The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council. The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds that it was of outstanding significance for the study of the working practice of Titian, one of the greatest artists of 16th century Venice.
RCEWA member Aidan Weston-Lewis said: Remarkably few drawings have come down to us by this giant of European painting, whose career spanned seven decades, so any evidence of his activity as a draughtsman is precious. This dynamic, gutsy study of an apostle is a working drawing, with scattered stains and spots of paint most likely picked up in Titian’s studio. It shows Titian exploring the fall of light and shade on the figure’s drapery and demonstrates an aspect of his draughtsmanship not otherwise represented in British collections. The decision on the export licence application for the drawing will be deferred until 19 December 2016. This may be extended until 19 April 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £4.4 million (plus VAT of £81,400).
Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the drawing should contact the RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.