The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) said the assessment will look at “how the export deferral system currently operates” and seeks to “identify potential improvements to make the process more effective in saving national treasures, while ensuring the rights of owners are protected”.
Earlier this year the Art Fund complained of “flaws in the system” following an impasse over the sale of a Jacopo Pontormo portrait to a collector in the US.
The National Gallery raised £30m to purchase the work only to be turned down by its American owner because of the post-Brexit exchange rate.
The picture remains in storage and cannot leave the UK because ministers have refused an export licence.
‘Clear and legally binding’
At the time the Art Fund called for a review, saying: “the UK’s art export control system should serve our public collections more effectively. Licence applicants should be required to give a clear and legally binding commitment to abide by the rules – which they are not at present.”
As part of the review process DCMS said it will be holding a series of conversations with a cross section of stakeholders.