Composer Lord Lloyd-Webber whipped up a storm in the press last month over British export controls following news that works from one of the finest collections of Pre-Raphaelite pictures had gone to the US. They were recently exported by Christopher Makins, Second Lord Sherfield, who lives in Washington. The collection was begun by Henry Makins, a friend of Millais, and enlarged by the following generations, including Sir Roger Makins, later First Lord Sherfield, who served as British ambassador in Washington 1953-56. He died two years ago and many of the pictures then passed to his eldest son, Christopher. Lord Lloyd-Webber has described it as “the most important collection of Pre-Raphaelites in private hands in Britain”, suggesting that it is even finer than his own collection. The 300 paintings and drawings include works by Millais, Holman Hunt, Rossetti and Burne-Jones. Agnew’s, Lord Sherfield’s dealer, confirmed that in 1997-98 “various paintings from the estate of Lord Sherfield which had been left to his son Christopher Makins were exported to his home in Washington.” The dealer added that “it is his intention to keep the collection together.” The Department of Culture Media and Sport confirmed to The Art Newspaper that export procedures had been correctly followed by the owner and since no picture was put before the Reviewing Committee, it must be assumed that the works were either individually valued below the threshold that requires a licence (£119,000 for paintings) or were not thought by the national advisors at the Tate Gallery to satisfy any of the Waverley Criteria. These require that a work be of historical, artistic or scholarly importance to the nation for an export stop to be considered. The Reviewing Committee has been pressing for the introduction of a fourth criterion to cover certain collections. This proposal has not been accepted by government. One masterpiece from the Makins collection is expected to go to the Tate Gallery. Millais’ “Mariana” has been offered in lieu of inheritance tax, at a valuation of around £5 million. Arrangements to accept the picture for the nation are nearing completion.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Lloyd Webber pre-Raphaelite export exhortation'