Export block on £18.5m Turner

JMW Turner’s tribute to a hero of the Napoleonic Wars is at risk of being exported unless a buyer able to match the asking price of £18,533,750 can be found.

Arts minister Michael Ellis has put a temporary export bar on the painting, Ehrenbreitstein, to allow a potential British buyer to come forward.

The 1835 picture shows the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein oberlooking the Rhine near Koblenz, and the obelisk on the left marks the grave of General Francois-Sévérin Marceau-Desgraviers, a a general of the French Revolutionary Army and a romantic hero of both sides in the French campaign in Germany in 1790s. He died of his wounds aged 27 and was immortalised in Bryon’s poem Child Harold’s Pilgrimage, a sentiment Turner shared.

The landscape was shown at the Royal Academy in 1835, based on material Turner collected when he visited the area in 1833, but this was the only oil. The export ban initially runs until May 28.

“This magnificent and beautifully preserved painting from Turner’s maturity demonstrates this great artist’s ability to present many layered narratives – historical and emotional – within the context of topography” said Lowell Libson, the dealer and member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art that recommended the export stop. “It is one of Turner’s finest works of the period.”


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