Arcadian Times

Founded May 8th, 2009


Pope's Villa painting to leave the country

Joseph Mallord William Turner's, (1775-1851), painting of Pope's Villa at Twickenham is subject to a temporary export ban, placed by Culture Minister Barbara Follett for a period ending on 9 February 2009 inclusive. This period may be extended until 9 June 2009 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the painting at the recommended price of £5,417,250 (excluding VAT) is expressed. The painting sold at Sotheby's in London last July is subject to the export ban to see if it can be saved for the nation.


Painted in 1808 the picture shows Pope's Villa the residence of Alexander Pope (1688-1744) and the distress he felt at the destruction of Pope’s villa. The villa, on the banks of the River Thames at Twickenham, had been commissioned by Pope in 1719 using the proceeds from his translation of Homer’s Iliad, and he lived in it for a quarter of a century. Lady Howe, who owned the villa in the early nineteenth century, was so bothered by the tourists and admirers who still came to see it and its grounds that she had it demolished, for which act of vandalism she was widely reviled as ‘Queen of the Goths’. Turner’s outrage at the apparent disregard for the legacy of Pope’s memory is expressed in lines he wrote while working on the painting:

“O Lost to honor and the sense of shame
Can Britain so forget Pope’s well-earnd fame
To desolation doom the poet’s fane
The pride of T[wickenham’s] bower and silver Thame…”

Unfortunately the news came through on February 10th 2009, that the export ban on the painting has been lifted, and therefore the painting can go to America.