The Ministers ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the painting is closely connected with UK history and national life, that it is of outstanding aesthetic importance, and that it is significant for the study of Pre-Raphaelite landscape painting and of the representation of Welsh landscape and culture in the nineteenth century. The Committee awarded a starred rating to the painting meaning that every possible effort should be made to raise enough money to keep it in the country.
William Dyce (1806-1865) was a Scottish artist who played an important role in the formation of public art education in Britain. His early career was spent in Edinburgh as a portrait painter. In 1837 he moved to London where he became head of the newly established School of Design, and also worked extensively at the Palace of Westminster and on the decoration of high Anglican churches. He supported the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood in their mission to revive British art, and adopted their practice of painting on location. Today he is best known for his Pre-Raphaelite landscapes, most of which were set in Scotland.
In the summer of 1860, late in his career, Dyce visited North Wales, where he was deeply affected by both the landscape and the way of life of the people. Welsh landscape with two women knitting is rare in being his only known finished oil painting of the Welsh landscape. The painting depicts two figures, an elderly woman seated and a younger one standing, on a carefully observed landscape in Snowdonia. The young woman is wearing Welsh national dress of red cloak, apron and tall black hat, and both are engaged in the traditional pastime of knitting. The painting reflects the conventional representation at that time of the people of North Wales as still untouched by progress.
Catherine Johns, Reviewing Committee member, said: This painting is not just another pretty landscape, but an image which works on many levels. It is a moving meditation on the passage of time. It is an important depiction of Welsh culture, recording a traditional way of life which was in danger of dying out. And it is a physical manifestation of Dyces attempts to reconcile his deep religious beliefs with the implications of the scientific discoveries which were being made at that time.
The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending on 19 February 2010 inclusive. This period may be extended until 19 May inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the painting at the recommended price of 557,218 (including VAT) is expressed.
Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the painting should contact the owners agent through:
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
Wellcome Wolfson Building
165 Queens Gate
London SW7 5HD
Telephone 020 7273 8270
Notes to Editors
1. For all media enquiries please contact Senior Media Relations Adviser, Sunita Sharma,on 020 7273 8299, email: [email protected].
2. For enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact Frances Wilson, RCEWA Secretary, on 020 7273 8270, email [email protected].
3. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by MLA, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the fair market price.
4. The details of the painting are:
William Dyce (1806-1864)
Welsh landscape with two women knitting
oil on prepared board
34.3 x 49.5 cm