Canada’s Waddington’s is holding a sale of eight works from the Art Gallery of Ontario’s European department including the Bernardus Johannes Blommers painting (above):
While deaccessioning always has gone on at the AGO, “in the past it has been in fits and starts,” he said the other day. From here on, “We’re committed to making it an ongoing process. … All the departments at the AGO are currently reassessing their holdings and will be deaccessioning next year and in the years to come. Here it’s just a case of the European department being the first one out of the gate.”
Quotas, he stressed, are not at play. The primary criterion in assessing a work’s potential disposability is “whether [it] belongs in our collection or not or whether [it’s] better off leaving.” The art the AGO has consigned to Waddington’s “lacks utility to the gallery,” he observed. “Generally, they don’t get exhibited at all and that’s almost always because there are better examples out there. With the Blommers [which has been at the AGO since 1949], it was thought amongst curators and myself that Blommers doesn’t represent the best of the Hague School. Yes, he is very charming and popular with certain collectors, but this one composition exists in several versions so it’s not a unique or a very especially important painting.” Admittedly, once it’s sold, the AGO will no longer have any Blommers in its holdings. But, said DeWitt, it’s not a big loss as the gallery has “a very rich group of Hague School objects.”
The eight lots originally were part of a slightly larger batch of European works. Before resorting to auction, the AGO prefers to offer its deaccessions to sister institutions across the country as gifts, exchanges or items for sale.
Culled works of art from the AGO head to auction (The Globe and Mail)