Entertainment & Arts

Baroque painting by master Domenichino saved for nation

Saint John the Evangelist, by Italian master Domenichino
Image caption The painting will be on display at the National Gallery for 18 months

A Baroque masterpiece valued at £9.2m has been saved for the nation after an anonymous buyer stepped in to prevent it going overseas.

Saint John the Evangelist, painted by Italian master Domenichino, was bought by a buyer from abroad in December, but its export licence was deferred.

Another collector stepped forward who will allow it to be regularly displayed in public.

It has now gone on show at the National Gallery in London.

Domenichino's painting was done for the Giustiniani family in the 1620s.

They were among Rome's most important collectors and owned a dozen works by Caravaggio.

'Confidence'

The oil painting, measuring 2 x 2.6 metres, is said to be the finest painting by Domenichino to remain in private hands, and the most important of his work in the UK.

The painting was purchased by an overseas collector in December 2009 but the export licence was deferred - by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) - to allow attempts to keep the work in the UK.

Rules allow private offers if public access is available to artworks for 100 days within a 12-month period.

National Gallery director Dr Nicholas Penny paid tribute to the unnamed collector for their "imagination and confidence".

"The result is a triumph for the National Gallery, but also for enlightened legislation and its efficient administration," he said.

National Gallery curator Dawson Carr said: "It is undoubtedly the best work by the artist remaining in private hands and its export would have been lamentable for the representation of Italian Baroque painting in this country."

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