The UK has put a temporary export bar on a £ 17m Renaissance bronze roundel.
The unique piece was found at a Devon country estate and sold at auction in 2003 for a then-record £ 6.9m to Qatari royal Sheikh Saud al-Thani.
The slotxo artefact, depicting the mythical gods Venus, Mars, Cupid and Vulcan, was later lent to the Victoria and Albert Museum before being sold again.
The ban runs until 27 September in the hope that funds, plus £ 3.4m VAT, can be secured to keep it in the UK.
This could be extended until 27 March 2022 if an offer to raise the money has been made.
The panel of experts advises ministers on whether objects more than 50 years old and sold to buyers who want to take them abroad should be “saved” for the nation.
The committee praised the 15th Century roundel’s “remarkable craftmanship”, saying it was “breathtaking in both beauty and grandeur” and its “loss … would be a misfortune”.
Myth and mystery
About 42cm (16.5 inches) in diameter, the roundel depicts Vulcan forging a helmet surrounded his wife Venus – the goddess of love. Venus is holding her son Cupid, while flirting with her lover Mars, the god of war.
It is thought to have been acquired on the Grand Tour by judge and MP George Treby III in the 1740s and kept at the family’s Plympton estate. Passed down through generations of the family, they were reportedly unaware of its importance and value when uncovered by auctioneers Christie’s.
Christie’s concluded it had originated in the region of Mantua, northern Italy, between 1480 and 1500 but stated it was impossible to identify its maker for certain.