OTTAWA -- The National Gallery of Canada says it no longer plans to sell a Marc Chagall painting.

The gallery announced earlier this month that it was going to auction off Chagall's work "The Eiffel Tower" in mid-May in order to buy a painting by another French artist that otherwise might have left the country.

But the Quebec government announced that it has taken steps to make sure Jacques-Louis David's neoclassical masterpiece "Saint Jerome Hears the Trumpet of the Last Judgment" will stay in that province.

The National Gallery says given Quebec's actions, "The Eiffel Tower" no longer needs to be sold.

But in spite of the reversal, the gallery is still defending its initial decision to sell the work, saying the move "was not taken lightly."

"It involved careful, scholarly consideration by gallery curators, the board and its external advisors," the gallery said in a statement Thursday.

Gallery CEO Marc Mayer says the Chagall initially ended up on the auction block after more than 150 art museums across Canada were first offered the sale, and failed to respond.