The Independent laments the choice of many British aristocrats to sell some of their Old Master works to raise cash as will happen tomorrow when Christie’s sells Nicholas Poussin’s Ordination for what it hopes will be £15-20m.
The story of the Anglican church’s Zurbarán paintings housed in Durham’s Auckland Castle illustrates some of the problems that come from incredibly valuable Old Master art. The church’s assets are primarily in land and property (meaning buildings.) The funds from the sale of the Zurbarán paintings would pay for the real work of the church, hiring priests. There’s also the cost of insuring the works which ends up being a tax upon the church. Nonetheless, after hanging in a bishop’s official residence for 250 years the locals tend to feel a little possessive, as the Telegraph shows us:
The images of the Patriarch Jacob and his Twelve Sons, completed in the 1640s, were projected to generate £500,000 a year in perpetuity for the Church if they were sold, Mr Baldry said.
The sale could still go ahead, while the future of Auckland Castle itself is also in doubt as the Church reviews its property portfolio.
Local residents in the Diocese of Durham had been upset at the plan to sell the works.
Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said: “The paintings are a precious cultural asset of the north-east.”