Last chance to stop Cardiff Castle vase leaving UK

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

May 28
12:18 2015

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a vase designed by William Burges, one of the most original and important architects and designers of 19th century Britain, providing a last chance to keep it in the UK.

This vase is one of a suite of four designed in 1874 to be placed in the corners of the Summer Smoking Room, at the top of the Cardiff Castles clock tower. Two of the four vases are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Higgins Gallery and Museum, Bedford. The third vase remains in private ownership.

The vase was created as an integral part of one of the pre-eminent architectural and decorative commissions of the nineteenth century, and certainly the most significant in Wales. Burges work drew on a great range of sources, including the arts of the Middle Ages, the Islamic world, and East Asia, and the vase is a stunning example of both his great range and skill as a designer and the eclecticism that characterises his style.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Its my hope that the temporary export bar will allow time for a UK buyer to come forward and ensure this incredible piece by Burges remains in the UK. The other three vases that formed this magnificent set are still in the UK and it would be fantastic to see them all reunited in an exhibition at Cardiff Castle or another of our public museums.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey took the decision to defer granting an export licence for the vase following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by Arts Council England. The RCEWA made their recommendation on the grounds of its historical significance, its outstanding aesthetic importance; and that it would be of huge benefit for the study of how William Burgess design work developed throughout the course of his career.

Sir Hayden Phillips , RCEWA Chairman said:

This Burges vase is intrinsically beautiful and outstanding in its historical significance. It is, of course, one of a suite of four, all still in this country. I am conscious that, earlier this year, the four surviving original copies of Magna Carta were brought together in an exhibition at the British Library. In my view it would be a noble purpose, in the public interest, for the same reunification to take place for the Cardiff Burges vases. The RCEWAs recommendation enables that opportunity to be realised.

The decision on the export licence application for the vase will be deferred for a period ending on 27 August 2015 inclusive. This period may be extended until 27 November 2015 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the vase is made at the recommended price of 163,000 (plus VAT which could be reclaimed by an eligible institution).

Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered by the Culture Minister. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefit to a public institution wishing to acquire the item.

Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the vase should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.

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