Friday, 17 August 2012

Child With Dove Ban

I noted the sale of Pablo Picasso's Child With A Dove (1901) in early March (CLICK). Five months later Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export ban on the daub. This follows a belated decision by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, which is run by Arts Council England. Groan! The Committee reckons the painting fulfils The Waverley Criteria: 1) it is so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune, 2) it is of outstanding aesthetic importance, 3) it is of outstanding significance for the study of some particular branch of art, learning or history (CLICK). Picasso's daub fails all three criteria. Regular readers will know I've been puzzled by what makes a foreign work of art worth saving for the nation when genuine works of national heritage by British artists are allowed to go abroad willy-nilly. I believe I have the answer. There is a 4th, hidden Waverley Criteria: that the work must have been owned by a member of the British aristocracy, in this case the Aberconway family in Wales (CLICK).


At 18/8/12, Anonymous Simon said...

Interesting post. The application of the Waverley criteria does have some odd features. From the description by DCMS, section 11 ( it looks as if criteria 1 and 3 don't apply to this work, but, on the other hand, that fulfilling one criterion is enough (section 10), though you obviously don't consider that the Picasso meets it. There is, indeed, a hidden 'fourth criterion': not (as you waggishly suggest) for the work to be owned by an aristocrat, but 'local interest' (section 13, not defined). It's additional to the Waverlies: i.e. one of them must also apply. It's not quite clear how each decision is made: the Arts Council ( mentions three independent assessors who vote on the Waverley status, while the DCMS document (sections 10 and 14) mentions just one Expert Advisor. But it looks as if the Reviewing Committee as a whole may make the final recommendation. The Chairman owns a stately home himself (, but surely no conflict of interest? Keep up the valuable comments.

At 18/8/12, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Hi, Simon

Thank you very much for your well researched comment. It's good to know that the Chairman owns a stately home! Of course this fact doesn't directly support my hypothesis, but it offers food for cynical thought. Well spotted!

I've covered quite a few of these puzzling sales over the years and the only explanation that makes sense is the aristocratic connection. Our stately-home Mafia needs watching carefully.

Please let me know if you spot anything untoward.


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