Rare De Heem painting at risk of leaving UK

A temporary export bar has been placed on a rare painting by Dutch artist Jan Davidsz De Heem in a race to find a buyer so it can stay in the country.

The painting, A Banquet Still Life, could fetch £6,109,200 as it is one of only four works completed in this size between 1640 and 1643 redefining the still life genre.

De Heem, considered one of the most important still life painters in the 17th century, was typically known for smaller paintings, making this monumental work incredibly rare.

A Banquet Still Life
A Banquet Still Life by Jan Davidsz De Heem (Victoria Jones/PA)

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, who imposed the temporary bar on the painting, said: “This captivating painting is magnificent not just in size but also in its exquisite detail.

“De Heem’s enormous talent is evident in this rare piece and I hope a buyer comes forward so it may be enjoyed and appreciated by viewers in the UK for many years to come.”

The bar was made following the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

The Committee made its recommendation on the grounds the painting’s departure from the UK would be a misfortune because it is of outstanding aesthetic importance.

The decision on the export licence application has been deferred until April 20 2022.

Committee member Christopher Baker said: “De Heem’s splendid still life combines grandeur in terms of its scale with numerous exquisitely wrought details that encourage close looking.

“The artist’s magnificent pictures of this type appealed to distinguished collectors: an example in the Louvre had by the 1680s been acquired by Louis XIV.

“In this case the original patron is yet to be identified and the painting has only recently been re-discovered by art historians; it has however been in a private UK collection since the early 19th century and every effort should be made to retain it so it might delight and interest and benefit British gallery visitors.”