A few days ago Bendor Grosvenor reported the dismal story of Bolton Council deciding to sell off 36 works of art. Though they bowed to pressure from arts groups about stopping the deaccessioning of a picture by a local painter, all the other 36 are going under the hammer at Bonham’s. Due to some famous artists on this list, I can’t help thinking Bendor might be on to something about this opening the floodgates for other council sell-offs, especially with the current evisceration of local government funds. The Dughet classical landscape (above) is top-notch, the Millais (below) is good and the Romney is a fine work. What a sorry state of affairs.
Gaspard Dughet Classical Landscape (pictured)
Richard Ansdell Buzzard and Ptarmigan
William Powell Frith A Dream of the Future
18th Century French School The Finding of Oedipus
Arthur Ambrose McEvoy Madame Errasuriz
Walter Richard Sickert Pauline de Talleyrand-Perigord
Philip Wilson Steer The Falls at Aysgarth
John Everett Millais The Somnambulis (pictured)
George Romney King Lear
Edward Burne-Jones Danae and the Brazen Tower
Charles Ginner English Landscape
The real tragedy is that people who have grown up with these works will now be deprived of them. We tend to forget about what could be called the “history of viewing”, in local museums. Each painting has welcomed many visitors over and over in its time, like a reassuring friend; now that bond will be broken. Reading this article I can’t help contrasting it with another experience: attending the 1998 Art Treasures of England: The Regional Collections exhibition, masterminded by Richard Verdi and Richard Foster. I can visualise the R.A. packed with wonderful pictures, from every provincial museum in the country, (Bolton included), and me marvelling at the richness of holdings in our local museums, set up with philanthropic drive and civic virtue. How different things seem today with our cultural lifeblood being drained away by a philistine government completely out of control, forcing local councils to take these measures. I fear BG’s thought about floodgates opening might prove prophetic.