A painting by Italian painter il Morazzone is at risk of leaving the UK unless a buyer is found for the £2 million work.
It is the only known surviving self-portrait by the baroque painter, whose real name was Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli.
The painting, titled Self-Portrait As A Knight, With A horse, An Easel With Painter’s Palette And A Page, dates back to 1605-10.
A temporary export ban has been placed on the painting to allow time for a UK gallery or institution to acquire it for their collection.
The painting is an example of Lombard art, which has its origins in the northern Italy region during the early 17th century and remains a relatively unexplored field in art history.
The style of the artwork combines natural realism with intense spirituality and piety.
A work by il Morazzone is said to be rare outside of northern Italy and this painting was presumed lost until its appearance on the London art market in 2020.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said the painting has a recommended price tag of £2,000,000.
Arts minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “There are no significant self-portraits by il Morazzone in any public collections in the UK, so this painting is a rare treasure.
“I hope that a buyer comes forward so that it can be studied and admired in this country.”
A member of the reviewing committee, Professor Mark Hallett said: “This is an unusually complex and fascinating picture that cries out for further research and analysis, both as a self-portrait of an important painter from the period, and as a work that illuminates the wider social and cultural dynamics of the 17th century Lombardy art world.
“The painting, which for many years was housed in an English family collection, also has the potential to provide new and important perspectives on the collecting of Italian Baroque art in Britain.”
The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred for a period ending on November 8.
This will be followed by a consideration period to analyse any offers with the second deferral period to start following the signing of an option agreement and will last for four months.