‘The Broken Column’: A stolen artwork is found but can’t be brought back to the United States

The National Gallery of Art is no longer able to import “The Broken Column,” a portrait of Elizabeth Carson by Sir Joshua Reynolds that has been brought to the U.S. by its owner since it was acquired by the Royal Collection almost a decade ago.

U.K. galleries are forbidden from destroying, altering or displaying works of art without official permission, and that does not appear to be granted in this case.

The portrait was purchased by the gallery in 2010 under its controversial and now-restated policy of allowing the sale and export of all British royal works of art without obtaining permission from the trustees.

READ MORE: How a wealthy Washington family is acquiring rare masterpieces for $100 million

According to the Guardian, the portrait had been planned for an auction in 2011, but was pulled back from that plan. The National Gallery declined to comment on any plans for its collection at the time of purchase. The gallery argued in 2010 that the sale would generate essential revenue.

In 2012, King Edward VII, owner of the painting, submitted it for inclusion in the original exhibition of the Royal Collection, but was denied by the trustees. A spokesperson for the National Gallery said the gallery now would be unable to access the painting for “several years.”

“This is an extremely rare example of a work that was eventually sold in an auction for sale to the National Gallery,” the spokesperson said. “[The permission policy] has been made clear to the trustees for many years and it is a central part of the exhibition process.”

Leave a Comment