The icon, held in such reverence, was sculptured by Jacob Epstein in 1946 and is just one of an edition. When asked about the ‘unprecedented’ nature of the gift, a spokesperson from the offices of the Government Art Collection replied.
sculpture remains a part of the Government Art Collection, and its display in
the Whitehouse (like any other work we have in any location) is not a
permanent arrangement. The works of art in the GAC are not
disposable assets, and we do not use the Collection as presents or gifts…
suppose that the only sense in which the loan is "unprecedented" is
that the works of art in the Government Art Collection are almost
exclusively used for display in British Government buildings to promote Britain
and reflect our history, culture and achievements in the visual arts. So
the loan of the work to the Whitehouse is unorthodox and outside our usual
further questions were asked about the asked about the standard protocol and
exceptions the department failed to clarify its position. How Tony Blair
acquired this national treasure for George Bush remains a mystery.
Part of the purpose of this letter is to resolve the mystery, but this may only become apparent toward the end.