THE GOVERNMENT has recognised a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a national treasure.
Minister of State for the Arts Tessa Blackstone has announced an initial one month temporary export bar on Raphael's The Madonna of the Pinks, with a further six months if necessary, meaning the National Gallery. where it is housed, has a chance to meet the asking price of £34,880,000 gross. As a result of the tax conces sions available to owners under Private Treaty Sale, the owner would receive more money after tax by selling the painting to the gallery rather than selling it abroad.
Director Charles Saumarez Smith said: "Everyone at the National Gallery has been overwhelmingly impressed by the strength of public feeling in favour of retaining this great Raphael. It will be a disaster for the country if it is exported.