British arts minister bars rare painting of world-famous dancer from export

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-21 09:32:44|Editor: Wu Qin
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LONDON, July 20 (Xinhua) -- British Arts Minister Rebecca Pow has placed a temporary export ban to keep a rare painting of one of the 20th century's greatest ballet dancers in the country.

The painting of Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky will leave Britain permanently unless a matching price of some 562,600 U.S. dollars is paid to keep it in the country, according to a press release of the British government on Friday.

"Nijinsky before the Curtain," painted by English artist Glyn Philpot, is regarded as a work of national importance.

The painting depicts the ballet dancer taking a curtain call after a performance of "L'Après-midi d'un faune" at the Royal Opera House in London in 1913.

However, after it was unveiled in the early 1900s, the painting caused moral outrage due to its eroticism. The ballet evoked in it caused controversy because of the graphic depiction of sexual desire in the final scene and the overtly erotic subtext of the piece.

Art expert Pippa Shirley said the painting is a highly significant work of art in its own right, and "captures a seminal but fleeting moment in the history of dance."

Nijinsky, the greatest male dancer of his generation and a highly inventive choreographer, was born in Kiev in 1890. He was brought up in Russia and received ballet training in St. Petersburg.

In 1909, Nijinsky joined the Ballets Russes dance company where he became the principal male dancer and rose to international stardom.

Nijinksy's impact on the British cultural history is "huge," said Pow. "Thousands of children across the U.K. attend dance lessons every day and this is due in no small part to Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes introducing ballet to the British cultural scene."

The decision on the export licence applications for the painting will be delayed until October 18, authority said.