18 November 2021



A temporary ban on the export of Sargent’s painting The Earl of Dalhousie has been imposed by the United Kingdom’s Arts Council. The painting’s estimated value is £7,617,360 (plus VAT). The ban will be in force until March 2022.

The ban means only buyers in the United Kingdom can buy the painting. The Arts Council hopes the ban will give a U.K. museum or gallery the chance to buy the Sargent.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (U.K. Arts Minister) commented:

John Singer Sargent was, as the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition of 2015 rightly noted, ‘the greatest portrait painter of his generation’. He continues to inspire artists, academics, and audiences to think more deeply about ourselves, our history, and the human condition – with Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat just one example of the creative impulses he continues to spark.

There is still so much we can learn from this outstanding portrait of the 14th Earl of Dalhousie, painted in the UK at the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries. It would be a huge loss if this piece were to leave the country. I sincerely hope that a UK buyer can be found to save the work for the nation.

The Council’s decision is based on whether the art work is 1. closely connected with U.K. history and national life; 2. has outstanding aesthetic importance; 3. has outstanding significance for the study of some particular branch of art, learning or history.

The painting is a three-quarter-length portrait of 14th Earl of Dalhousie, Arthur Ramsey, leaning against a plinth. The portrait was painted when he was twenty-one. Ramsey fought in the Second Boer War and World War I. He was a Scottish peer and died in 1928.

The painting was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1956.

Other works of art on the U.K. temporary export ban list include:

  • John Gould, two drawings
  • Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi, The Nativity
  • Attributed to Guiliano Finelli, Aristotle and Homer Marble Busts
  • Tipu Sultant Throne Finial


John Singer Sargent, The Earl of Dalhousie (1899-1900) oil on canvas, 60 x 40 inches, signed lower left. Image by U.K. Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.