Well, thank goodness, some campaigns actually work! I was delighted to read on the Irish Arts Review website that the Appeal to Save the Beit Paintings has had some good news. Three of the paintings bound for auction have been bought privately by donors in Ireland and will now be transferred to the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) for all to enjoy.
Yes, it’s a great result but – what a sorry tale to tell. First of all, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, who lived in Russborough House in Co. Wicklow, gifted 17 priceless masterpieces to the Irish state – paintings by Vermeer, Metsu, Velazquez and Goya among others, acknowledged by the National Gallery at the time as being “among the greatest single gift to any Gallery in the world in that generation”.
Then in 1976, the estate was transferred to the Alfred Beit Foundation, a charitable and educational trust which was established with the object of keeping the house and art collection intact and open to the public. Other artworks which were not included in the gift of 17 remained at Russborough House and under the care of the foundation. But then earlier this year, believe it or not, the foundation decided to sell off the paintings to fund the upkeep of the property. (Our present government has a terrible record when it comes to protecting and supporting our cultural heritage). You can read more about this story on Arran Henderson’s excellent website at http://arranqhenderson.com/2015/05/05/jacuse-rubens-other-old-masters-to-be-sold-off-lost-forever/
Well, the Irish Arts Review started a petition to save these paintings and, thanks to the rumpus created, three of the best paintings will now remain in Ireland. I read that the paintings have been purchased by the businessmen Denis O’Brien, who bought Portrait of a Bearded Man (above), John Gallagher, who bought Adoration of the Shepherds, and Lochlann Quinn, who bought A village kermesse near Antwerp. (There’s still two more masterpieces waiting for donors by the way – any offers?)
So that’s my story for you this week, you’d have to agree that the beard on your man above, any hipster would be proud of… Comments are always welcome. Click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this post and you can put your comment there. Slán go fóill, eoin
and there’s more about my own artwork at –