Stubbs paintings saved for the nation

Posted on: November 12, 2013 by

Two paintings by George Stubbs sold at auction in February this year have been saved for the nation following the imposition by the DCMS of a temporary bar on their export.  The paintings, dating back to 1773, of a dingo and a kangaroo sold for £5.5m and were the first depictions of these animals in Western art.  The export bar was imposed by the Minister of Culture, Ed Vaizey, following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.  The committee argued that the paintings are “so closely connected with our national life that their departure would be a misfortune”, and that they were “of outstanding significance for the study of eighteenth century exploration of Australia and the public dissemination of knowledge during the Enlightenment”.  The export bar, initially in place until 5th August 2013, was subsequently extended to 5th November.  Whilst the connection with the UK is certainly clear, Australia can also argue a strong connection – Ron Radford, director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, has been quoted as stating that “The Stubbs image of the kangaroo is an Australian icon… It was the basis for the kangaroo on Australia’s first coat of arms.”