It may soon be gone.
Turner's last Roman masterpiece, 'Modern Rome-Campo Vaccino', could be another causality of the squeeze on museums. It will go under the hammer on July 7th, at Sotheby's. It's appropriate that it will be sold there; one of the descendants of the family that own it is the deputy chairman of Sotheby's English division.
Sotheby's expect the Turner to fetch up to £18 million, which the Rosebery family need "to divide family assets to secure the future of landed estates." See the one below for instance! That's what a Sotheby's spokesman says in today's Evening Standard. Meanwhile the future of old masters in this country looks pretty grim as reported in the same paper. If the Turner is sold, a hold will be put on an export licence pending hopeful purchase of the work, but will it be saved?
The Turner, which is on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland, is a victim of the huge deficit run up by that gallery with the purchase of Titian's Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon from the Duke of Sutherland for £100 million. I saw the former yesterday in London prior to its American tour.
I also saw the 'Raphael' Madonna of the Pinks, which the Evening Standard cite as an example of a masterpiece saved from going abroad, incidentally also previously owned by the Duke of Sutherland. I'm sorry but I can't get excited about this purchase because with this 'Raphael' we're probably dealing with a 17th century copy, not an autograph work saved for the nation. I really wish that it had gone to the Getty, and that an original could have been bought with the money instead.
I'm not sure that the Turner will be saved. Apart from the harsh climate for museums, there are massive holdings of the artist in the U.K. Would another one be missed? I hope it stays here, but time will tell.