Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed an export ban on rare 18th century silk hangings due to “their outstanding significance for the study of Jewish ritual art”.
The seven hand-embroidered silks, depicting Jerusalem’s First and Second Temples, have been part of a private collection in Britain for over 50 years. The owners have recently sold the pieces to overseas buyers but, following the recommendations of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, Mr Vaizey has banned the export, hoping to keep the hangings in the UK.
Mr Vaizey has given potential UK buyers until May 20 to purchase the silks at the recommended price of £120,000. This period may be extended until August if individuals or organisations show serious intention to raise the funds.
The chaiman of the review committee, Lord Ingleman, said: “The importance of these apparently unique works is unquestionable. They are beautiful examples of 18th century textiles and their link to Judaism makes them very important.”
The Hebrew word, Elocheinu, meaning Our God, is painted onto one of the gold and silver silk panels. According to experts, the designer is unknown but the artistic style indicates Italian or Dutch origin.