Sale of Art Works from the Permanent Collections
- What is being sold?
- Why is this being done?
- Why does the council not rent a store?
- Why do we need a museum store?
- Are there any other Options?
- How are they being sold?
- How were the art works chosen?
- Why have works that were on permanent display been included?
- How do the works being sold relate to the rest of the collection?
- How was this decision reached?
What is being sold?
36 Works are to be sold. These are set out below, in chronological order of original purchase by Bolton Council.
For a fuller description and images:
- Classical Landscape attributed to Gaspard Dughet
- Waiting for the Tide by James Wallace
- The Valley of the Llugwy, North Wales by Alfred Oliver
- The Rivals by George Smith
- The Women Stealers by E. Matthew Hale
- Seagulls and Sapphire Seas by Robert Gemmell Hutchison
- King Lear, Edgar and the Fools by George Romney
- An Autumn Moonrise by Edward Wilkins Waite
- The Old Barge, Limehouse by Charles Napier Hemy
- Land of Romance by George Faulkner Wetherbee
- Buzzard and Ptarmigan by Richard Ansdell
- A Dream of the Future by William Powell Frith
- The Apple by Richard Jack
- Fallow Deer by Robert Hills
- The Yellow Drawing Room, The Royal Pavillion, Brighton by August Charles Pugin
- Cottages near Symonds Yat by Joshua Cristall
- Procession of the Feast of Corpus Christi, Naples by James Duffield Harding
- Near Chudleigh (Devon) by John W.Abbott
- A Norfolk Landscape by John Berney Ladbrooke
- The Lizard, Cornwall / Cornish Moonlight by Julius Olsson
- Hatfield Heath by William Mark Fisher
- The Finding of Oedipus by Follower of Antoine Coypel/18th century French School
- Madame Errasuiz by Arthur Ambrose McEvoy
- The Falls at Aysgarth near Richmond, Yorkshire by Philip Wilson Steer
- Hastings by Albert Goodwin
- Pauline de Talleyrand-Perigord by Walter Richard Sickert
- Caerphilly Castle by George Arthur Fripp
- Peintre et Modele Regardant by Pablo Picasso
- Le Picador by Pablo Picasso
- Mountain Scene in North Wales by John Varley
- Lake Scene with Mountains by John Varley
- The Somnabulist by John Evert Millais
- Portrait of Mary Sartois by Frederick Leighton
- A Study of Danae and the Brazen Tower by Edward Burne-Jones
- English Landscape by Charles Ginner
- Glen Affric, Inverness-shire by James Holland
Why is this being done?
The sole motivation is to raise capital funds to invest in a badly needed, modern museum storage facility.
In common with all local authorities at this time, Bolton Council faces acute financial challenges that must be tackled in a short time scale One of the measures being taken to raise income is to sell a council-owned property which is currently partly used as a place to store a large part of the museum collections.
This presents the service with a significant opportunity to develop a much better store facility, but also a severe funding gap in terms of finding the necessary capital at a time when the Council is unable to support capital projects on this scale. The sale of works from the art collection is the only option open to the museum service to raise the capital funds necessary to ensure that the collections stored here are safely relocated.
Why does the council not rent a store?
Rent of commercial space has been investigated. This option would bring very high annual rent costs, especially for sites with a high enough standard of security and accessibility and this would lead to further cuts elsewhere. There is also a high risk of having to move the collections again if the site was sold or changed use, a very expensive thing to do and damaging to the more fragile objects.
Why do we need a museum store?
Bolton is fortunate to have fantastically rich museum collections built up over the last 150 years. Like almost all museums, there are far more objects than can be displayed at any one time. As well as being used to create new displays and exhibitions, the stored collections are regularly used for academic research, teaching, art projects and to help answer hundreds of enquiries a year.
To ensure that such use of the collections is possible, the collections must be properly documented, organised and cared for. Some areas, such as Egyptology, are kept in the central library and museum building. Unfortunately there is not enough room for all the collections so the majority, particularly local and industrial history and some archives are kept at other store sites.
The proposed new museum and archive store will have significant benefits in terms of the long-term care and accessibility of the collections. The additional space would also allow some related collections to be removed from expensive commercial storage, thus reducing revenue costs and making the whole service more sustainable. There is also potential for the store site to serve a regional role and partnerships are being developed in this area.
Are there any other Options?
The council does not have the capital funds to fully pay for a new store and no external grant funding bodies are able to support the project.
Selling works of art from the permanent collections is a last resort. This difficult decision has been taken to sacrifice a small number of artworks in order to safeguard the long-term future of a larger part of the collections. Over the previous decades these collections have particularly suffered from being moved from one unsuitable storage site to another. It is hoped that this decision will ensure that the whole collection can finally enjoy proper long-term security, proper care and public accessibility.
How are they being sold?
The art works are to be sold at public auctions organised by Bonhams from July 2011 and will be advertised in their auction publicity. This contract was awarded after a formal tendering process in accordance with standard Council procedures.
How were the art works chosen?
The service needs to cover the cost of refurbishing a new storage space to appropriate standards and the significant associated costs of safely moving the collections. In order to raise this figure it was necessary to concentrate upon art works as these have the greatest financial value.
Bolton has over 3000 paintings, drawings, prints. The majority of these were acquired through donation or purchased using grants, but a minority were bought outright.
- The works considered were all originally purchased using only Council revenue funds. No works acquired by public donation, bequest or using any form of grant money have been considered.
- The long list of purchased artworks was narrowed down to those items which fell outside four criteria which have been identified as the core strengths of Bolton’s art collection.
These core criteria are:
- British sculpture
- Paintings, drawings, prints produced after the Second World War by British artists
- Artworks produced at any time by Bolton artists
- Items which document Bolton’s history
- The final list was drawn up from those works which fell outside the criteria listed above. Works were added to the list until the required collective value had been reached.
It is important to acknowledge that like many local authority art collections, Bolton’s has been built up over a long period of time and has inevitably grown up organically.
In addition, the principle of only considering fully revenue funded purchases adds a further randomness as whether a work was purchased with grant aid or not in the past has often simply been down to the timing of the purchase rather than its artistic quality or relationship to the rest of the collection. This means that any division of the art collection will be somewhat arbitrary. However, an attempt has been made to apply logic while meeting the ultimate requirement to raise the capital figure needed to fund a new store.
Why have works that were on permanent display been included?
Four works previously on permanent display have been included in the list. Although two of these in particular (‘Seagulls and Sapphire Seas’ and ‘the Somnambulist’) have been extremely popular fixtures in the main gallery, it was decided to not exclude them as they fall outside the core collection criteria laid out above and they have the highest values of all the works on the list.
The alternative would have been to sell far more works of lesser value. For example, the alternative to selling ‘Seagulls and Sapphire Seas’ could be to sell up to 20 other works.
On balance it was considered that to take this course, assuming that it was possible to identify this many further works within the collections, would have caused more damage to the strength and integrity of the Bolton collections. In particular it would have made it far more difficult to protect the British sculpture collection which is a particular strength.
How do the works being sold relate to the rest of the collection?
- 2 oil paintings are ‘old masters’. Bolton retains a small number of other Continental works that date to before 1800.
- 8 works are oil paintings or drawings by British artists dating to between 1800 and 1890. The collection retains representative examples of other works by British artists from this period.
- 12 works are oil landscapes or portraits (human and animal) by British artists dating to between the 1890s and 1930s. These were mainly bought as contemporary work directly from the artists or their dealers, often following exhibitions held at Bolton’s former art gallery. The collection retains representative examples of other works by British artists from this period acquired by this and other methods.
- The oil paintings and drawings acquired in the 1950s were purchased specifically for the new Le Mans Crescent Gallery. Other works that were purchased for this reason using grant funding are retained.
- 11 works are English watercolours dating between the 1810s and 1930s. Of the 10 artists represented, 8 have other works in Bolton’s watercolour collection.
- 4 of the watercolours are from the H. Fraser Johnston collection, a varying collection of over 100 works purchased by Bolton in 1947 as a founding collection of English watercolours. The remainder were purchased between the 1950s and 1970s to add to this collection. A number of other English watercolours acquired during this period by other methods have been retained.
- 2 works are prints by a Continental artist purchased in the 1960s. These are an anomaly alongside Bolton’s extremely strong British print collection.
How was this decision reached?
- The process for choosing the works was discussed with both the Museums Association and the MLA.
- The policy was considered and approved at meetings of the Council Executive in October and November 2010.
- In keeping with the agreed disposal process used by the service up to this point as part of an ongoing collections rationalisation process, the list of works has been approved using the delegated powers of the Executive Member for Adult Services and the Council Leader.