Ministers have moved to save a £450,000 painting of ballet visionary Vaslav Nijinsky from being sold outside the UK.
The famed ballet virtuoso danced with the Ballets Russes and worked on important works including The Right Of Spring.
A portrait depicting the star dancer taking a curtain call in London has been deemed a work of national importance to the UK.
Ministers have prevented it being sold aboard after a £450,000 price was agreed with a foreign buyer, and want to keep the piece in the country.
Arts minister Rebecca Pow said: “Nijinsky is one of the most famous dancers of the 20th century and his impact on our cultural history is huge.
“Thousands of children across the UK attend dance lessons every day and this is due in no small part to Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes introducing ballet to the British cultural scene.
“I hope that a buyer can be found to keep this important work in the country.”
The painting, Nijinsky Before The Curtain, was created by British artist by Glyn Philpot.
It is based on the dancer’s 1913 appearance at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, where he performed in the UK premiere of L’Apres-midi D’un Faune.
The export block on the painting is based the recommendation of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).
Committee member Pippa Shirley said: “This painting is a highly significant work of art in its own right, but perhaps more than that, it captures a seminal but fleeting moment in the history of dance.”
The decision on the export licence applications for the painting will be deferred until October 18.
This may be extended until January 2020 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £450,000 plus VAT.