Manuscript acquired by Getty prevented from leaving Britain


A valuable 15th century Flemish manuscript acquired by the J.Paul Getty Museum late last year has been placed under an export embargo by British authorities, who hope to keep the object in the United Kingdom.

Britain’s cultural minister Ed Vaizey has put a temporary export bar on the manuscript, known as “Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies.” The export bar will prevent the object from leaving Britain while authorities attempt to raise the money needed to keep it in the country.

In a statement Vaizey said that it “would be wonderful if the extra time granted by the export allows a buyer to come forward and ensure it remains in a UK collection.”


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In a statement sent to The Times, Getty Director Timothy Potts said “this is normal procedure when purchasing works of art in the United Kingdom. The Getty understands and respects the export process in the U.K. We look forward to a positive outcome and the opportunity to add this exceptional illuminated manuscript to our collection so that we can share it with visitors to the Getty Museum.”

The Guardian reported that the Getty agreed to pay £3.8 million for the Flemish manuscript. The Getty didn’t disclose how much it paid when it announced the acquisition in December.

A recent news release from Britain’s cultural department said that £3.8 million must be raised to keep the manuscript in the country.

“Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies” is an illuminated manuscript that features eight painted half-page miniatures. It was created by Lieven van Lathem, a Flemish illuminator who lived and worked in what is now Belgium.

Britain’s cultural minister has put temporary export bars on a number of art objects in the recent past. Last year, Britain’s Ashmolean Museum successfully raised close to £8 million ($12.5 million) to acquire a Manet painting that had previously been sold to a foreigner.

More recently, the Raphael drawing “Head of a Young Apostle” is being prevented from leaving British shores, according to a report from the Guardian. The drawing sold at a Sotheby’s auction in December, exceeding expectations by fetching £29 million.


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