The reason Gillows’ famous Mary Hutton Rawlinson antique bookcase is in a Lancashire museum, and not a wealthy overseas collector’s home, is because the British Government placed a temporary export ban on it. Now, it has done the same thing to a £5m landscape of the River Thames, but with one important difference – it is by an American artist.
The painting, ‘Richmond Hill, Summer of 1862’, is by Jasper Francis Cropsey, a member of the Hudson River School. He moved from Staten Island New to London in 1855, returning home in 1862. To pay off his debts, he painted the panoramic Richmond Hill scene, selling it just before he returned home.
A magnificent exercise in realism and detail, the painting has remained on British soil ever since. However, in 1999 it almost ended up being shipped to Seattle when collector Chris Larson and his wife, Julia Calhoun, placed a winning bid. The export was blocked and the painting ended up in their London apartment.
Roll on to 2012, when the couple divorced and divided their possessions. Calhoun ended up with the London home and the Cropsey painting – which she had always disliked. She reportedly said:
“It’s OK if you like brown.”
Valued at $8.5m last year, a new temporary export order has now been imposed in case Calhoun puts the painting up for auction. British buyers will need to raise at least £4.95m to prevent the painting leaving the country.
Decorative arts can be found at antiques dealers in Lancashire, especially in the form of Victorian oak pedestal desks and other fine furniture.
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