London, July 12 (IANS) A rare jewel-encrusted book that belonged to a 16th century French king is in danger of being exported from Britain unless $10.5 million can be raised to stop it going abroad, an official said on Tuesday.
Government Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on the ‘Book of Hours’ in a final bid to keep it in Britain, the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) said.
The bejewelled ‘Book of Hours’ was made in 1532 and belonged to King Francois I of France (1494-1547).
Its metal cover is made of enamelled gold, and studded with jewels and precious stones, including rubies, turquoises and a tourmaline.
Inside the elaborate binding is a parchment ‘Book of Hours’, which was a Christian devotional book popular in the Middle Ages. It is painted with 20 religious images and prayers to be said during the day.
Most of the paintings were completed by the “1520s Hours Workshop” which were book artists who produced high quality manuscripts for royal and aristocratic patrons.
“Jewelled books are considered extremely rare and the high-quality painting inside the book makes it a unique survival,” a DCMS spokeswoman said.
Culture Minister Vaizey said: “This exceptional book provides us with a rare glimpse into the royal courts of 16th century Renaissance France and is of outstanding scholarly value. I hope that this unique book remains in Britain for the public to enjoy.”
The decision to defer an export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by the Arts Council.
Peter Barber of the RCEWA said the book is only known through mentions in inventories. “The British public now has the chance to keep this unique surviving example, a European masterpiece in miniature, in the United Kingdom and available for display and study by future generations.”