The Washington Post has a story this morning identifying the sale of three Eakins works at Christie’s on May 20th to fund further acquisitions. Within the story, a Hirshhorn curator explains how the three were chosen from the collection’s 220 works by the painter:
The three have not been exhibited at the Hirshhorn since a survey of the artist’s work in 1977. The paintings are a study for “Portrait of Mrs. Charles L. Leonard,” a study for “William Rush and His Model” and a portrait of Robert C. Ogden.
Valerie Fletcher, a senior curator for the Hirshhorn, said the decision was based on a survey that took place from 2005 to 2007. “With a major artist and a large collection, you assess how other people see your collection, such as how many are borrowed over the years, what works are on view . . . what is its condition,” said Fletcher. Another consideration, she added, is whether a painting has been written about in reference works or surveys of Eakins’s art. [ . . . ] In deciding whether to remove a work from the collection, Fletcher said, the curators consider the subject matter, especially if there is duplication, as well as composition and size. “The ‘Ogden’ is the largest full painting we have by Eakins, but it is very static. It was a portrait that was commissioned at the time Eakins needed money. It doesn’t have the passion of some of his other work,” she said. The nude study for “William Rush” is similar to one in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Theirs is better, so there was redundancy,” Fletcher said.
The Hirshhorn Will Sell 3 Works by Eakins (Washington Post)