Culture Minister steps in to prevent 18th century painting from export

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Culture Minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on a satirical painting by William Hogarth to provide an opportunity to keep it in the country.
The Christening by William Hogarth is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £1,223,100.

William Hogarth is considered to be one of the most important figures in eighteenth-century British art and culture. 

He was known for his satirical artwork, and The Christening was his first painted comical scene. It shows a christening taking place in a wealthy but disorderly home. From the little girl about to knock over the christening bowl, to the dog about to rip apart the hat on the ground, the painting is a satirical scene of contemporary life in the eighteenth century.

The painting marks Hogarth’s beginning as a satirical artist and demonstrates his development into comical artwork.

The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.

RCEWA member Lowell Libson said:

“Hogarth’s importance in imbuing art and artists with a sense of a national character at a time when England was consolidating its international position as the dominant economic and political power cannot be underestimated. This important painting demonstrates Hogarth’s concern with the effects that this new affluence had on all sectors of society. Hogarth himself noted that ‘my picture was my stage’ and The Christening, a small, beautifully executed painting is a deceptively charming and significant early precursor of the great cycles of modern moral paintings and their related engravings. Its retention in this country would considerably add to the story we can tell of a painter who helped define our national identity.”