The Blue Rigi by J. M. W Turner
Sometimes, you begin to wonder what kind skew-whiff world re we living in. Yesterday, it was announced that Daniel Radcliffe, the young actor who plays Harry Potter in the successful screen adaptations of J. K. Rowling‘s novels, has joined the 2006 rich list and is now worth a cool £14 million.Today, in what seems to me to be stark contrast, it has been announced that the Tate Britain has to launch an appeal to raise £4.9million needed to keep this wonderful watercolour, J. M. W. Turner’s The Blue Rigi, a view of Mount Rigi seen from Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, in this country.
The Blue Rigi which until recently had been in private hands, was sold to an anonymous overseas buyer in June for £5.8 million, breaking the record for a British work of art on paper. When the painting’s buyer sought permission to take it overseas the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) deferred the export licence on account of the painting’s outstanding national importance and gave the Tate until March 2007 to raise the £4.9 million that would be needed to keep the painting in Britain. If the Tate can find that kind of money, tax breaks to the vendor will be enough make up the remainder of the original selling price.
What astonishes me about all of this is that we can, in very a short number of years, make a young actor, who has yet to prove that he is that he is anything more than a ‘one trick pony’, a multi-millionaire while we seem to be struggling – and not with any real public conviction – to raise a little less than a third of what he’s earned to keep something that is undoubtedly a national treasure in its rightful home.