LONDON, UK.- Arts Minister, Estelle Morris, has placed a temporary export bar on a set of nineteen watercolours, entitled Designs for Blairs Grave by William Blake. In doing so she has acted on the expert recommendation of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.
William Blake (1757-1827), artist, poet and visionary, occupies a unique place in the life and letters of this country. This group of nineteen works, which are in excellent condition, was last seen in public in the 1830s and their re-emergence after so long means that a pivotal moment in Blakes career can now finally be fully reconstructed. Seven of the watercolours are completely unknown to modern scholars.
In 1805 the publisher RH Cromek commissioned Blake to produce the designs and then engrave them for a well-known poem, The Grave, by the Scottish poet Robert Blair (1699-1746). The beautiful watercolours complemented Blairs narrative and constituted a powerful and concise response to an important work in the British literary genre of Graveyard Poetry - a vital element in the development of British Romanticism. They are a unique survival as a group amongst Blakes oeuvre and will take their place among his outstanding achievements.
The deferral will enable purchase offers to be made at the following agreed fair market price:
Nineteen watercolours deferred at the recommended price of £8,800,000 (excluding VAT), until after 30 May 2005 with the possibility of an extension until after 30 September 2005 if there is a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase.
Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the watercolours should contact the owners agent through:
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street