Fight to keep Queen Victoria statue in Britain announced by art's chief

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-08 20:26:20|Editor: ying
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LONDON, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Arts minister John Glen stepped in Friday to prevent a unique sculptured bust of one Britain's most famous monarchs, Queen Victoria, from being exported abroad.

Glen has slapped a temporary export bar on what has been described as an extraordinary sculpture of Queen Victoria to provide an opportunity to keep it in Britain.

The sculpture is at risk of being exported from unless a buyer can be found to match an asking price, with taxes, of 1.440,000 British pounds (1.90 million U.S. dollars).

The depiction of the ageing monarch, who ruled the British Empire until her death in 1901, was created by master sculptor Alfred Gilbert, who transformed British sculpture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

His celebrated works include the Eros statue in London's famous Piccadilly Circus, known as the Shaftesbury Memorial.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: "The sculpture was based on a full-length bronze statue of Queen Victoria, which Gilbert had produced in 1887. Gilbert rarely worked in marble; most of his sculptures are of bronze, making this piece even more exceptional."

Arts Minister John Glen said: "This captivating likeness of Queen Victoria showcases the extraordinary skills of celebrated sculptor Alfred Gilbert. I would be delighted to see this unique piece on display in a UK institution where the public can enjoy and admire it.

The sculpture depicts Queen Victoria towards the end of her long life, with the marble sensitively carved to reflect the texture of her skin and her meditative expression, as well as the soft swirls of cloth around her head and shoulders.

While the bust has the appearance of a highly realistic likeness, the sculptor did not work from life but from photographs, using his own mother as a model for the figure and drapery. He said at the time, "One was Queen of my country - the other Queen of my heart".

The bust was commissioned in 1887 by the Army and Navy Club to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria's coronation in 1837.

The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council, had recommended the export bar.

RCEWA member Lowell Libson said: "Sir Alfred Gilbert, a leading but mercurial light in the British New Sculpture' movement, is now regarded as one of the greatest European sculptors of the period.

"This monumental portrait bust of the Queen-Empress is not only an important icon made at the apogee of British power but a complex and hugely sympathetic image. It is also a tour de force of marble carving, a medium which Gilbert rarely employed."