Victoria & Albert Museum

Mantuan Roundel for the V&A

Qatar agrees to loan

London. The Mantuan Roundel, below, has been lent by the Qatari ruling family to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. The gilded roundel from around 1490, depicting Mars, Venus, Cupid and Vulcan, was bought for £7m by Sheikh Saud al-Thani at Christie’s in 2003. The following year a UK export licence was deferred, to allow a British buyer to match the price, and the V&A succeeded in raising the funds. Qatar then controversially withdrew its export licence application, so the roundel had to be kept in the UK, where it languished in a safe. Last year the V&A asked to borrow the roundel, and Qatar agreed. It will be able to reapply for an export licence in 2014, with a new valuation.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 224 May 2011