The National Gallery has only got until 22 October to buy Jacopo Pontormo’s Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap (1530), a masterpiece of Florentine mannerism that is currently subject to a government export ban. It has already been sold to a US collector and tax has been paid on it, so the gallery has to match the £30m price – and the deadline is rapidly approaching. With a £19m government grant already awarded.
Why does it matter? Why is it so important to keep this particular painting in Britain? Perhaps because it is not just a beautiful portrait but a moving document of politics and history. For this is a picture of a young idealist: a relic of revolution.
We’ve already taxed the dustmen and the nurses for the pleasure of the Guardian’s art critic. Now he wants even more of other peoples’ cash to feed his desires?