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UK RISKS LOSING RARE WATERCOLOUR OF DESTROYED HENRY VIII CASTLE
The earliest depiction of a royal palace in Surrey is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £1,000,000.
Nonsuch Palace by Joris Hoefnagel
'Nonsuch Palace from the South', painted in 1568 by Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel, is the oldest of only six remaining depictions of the 16th century palace.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary bar on the export of the watercolour painting, in the hope that a buyer can be found.
Mr Vaizey said:
"This watercolour has been in the UK for 400 years... I really hope we can find a buyer to keep this masterpiece here in Britain."
Designed to rival the opulent residences of the French king Francis I, Nonsuch Palace was built in 1538 to mark Henry VIII's 30th year on the throne and the birth of his son Edward, and is considered one of the most stunning pieces of architecture from the Renaissance period.
Nonsuch remained a royal palace until 1670, when Charles II gave it to his mistress, who went on to dismantle and sell it off piece by piece to settle her gambling debts. By 1690, almost nothing remained of the original structure.
The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation from the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), on the grounds of the painting's outstanding significance for understanding the nature of English Renaissance architecture, particularly as Nonsuch Palace no longer exists.
RCEWA member Peter Barber said:
"British institutions have a chance to acquire a beautiful object that is of enormous significance for English culture and history. Though drawn after Henry VIII’s death, this exquisite watercolour is redolent of England’s best-known King. It is the most accurate depiction of the palace through which Henry sought to immortalise his reign and emphasise his role as a Renaissance prince and a leader of European fashion. Uniquely it shows details of the external decorations, of which only a few battered fragments now survive, that made Nonsuch, as its name suggests, a wonder of its age, an expression of Tudor pride and power and later a favourite residence of Elizabeth I."
The decision on the export licence application for the watercolour will be deferred until 31st May 2016, but this may be extended to 31st August 2016 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the painting at the asking price of £1,000,000 is made by a potential buyer.
Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the painting should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.