Again with Omai

Detail of Joshua Reynolds' Portrait of Omai, about 1776

Britain has extended the export hold on Joshua Reynolds' Portrait of Omai to June 10, 2023, reports Martin Bailey in The Arts Newspaper. The UK National Portrait Gallery is trying to buy the painting, and a joint-purchase deal with the Getty is apparently still worth speculating about in the British media. NPG director Nicholas Cullinan says he hopes to have Omai on view when his London institution reopens June 22.


Has anyone even studied the conservation practicalities and pitfalls of shunting this painting 5,500 miles every two years, say, between LA and London? And forever?
I mean, it's not like a joint ownership arrangement with an easy commute between the Morgan and the Met.
Are there other cases of this kind, and what lessons do they have to teach us?
Anonymous said…
The Brits have grabbed objects from throughout the world for centuries. Although the Reynolds is at least a local guy, it seems that turnaround is fair play. How them Elgin Marbles doing?

Meanwhile, Louvre World across the Channel and NGALand on the other side, etc, are full of more stuff than anyone knows what to do with.

I recall this type of tug of war being discussed years ago and someone in the UK sniffed that since the Getty has such a spotty collection, and since London was overflowing, why not part with some of the local stuff (I believe it was an artwork not even of original English provenance) and let the Americans get an export license.

Closer to home, something about all of this makes me uneasy but also question whether tastemakers and opinion shapers necessarily deserve the final say or not:

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