Ministers have stepped in to keep four rare early works by Francis Bacon – worth a combined total of £3 million – in the UK.
A painted screen valued at £2.5 million, believed to be the figurative painter’s earliest-surviving large-scale work and his earliest-surviving figure painting, is one of the items being blocked from export.
The screen was completed at the start of Bacon’s career in around 1930 and was his first work in triptych, in which a picture or relief is carved on three panels, attached together and usually presented as an altarpiece.
The other items placed under an export bar are three rugs that were sold separately at auction, each considered among the finest modernist carpets in existence and described as “rare survivals of a very limited production of a group of rug designs” by Bacon.
The rugs are valued at between £146,000 and £186,000.