Carnegie Museum of Art Deaccessioning Five Paintings by British Artist George Romney
Pittsburgh, PA…Five oil paintings by British artist George Romney that have been deaccessioned by Carnegie Museum of Art will be included in a January 26, 2011, auction at Christie’s auction house of New York.
The decision to deaccession the five works was made after analysis by curators and conservators and in consultation with British art experts. The works were donated to the museum in 1928 when Romney was a very popular artist, according to Louise Lippincott, curator of fine arts at Carnegie Museum of Art.
“Carnegie Museum of Art has an extraordinary Romney oil painting on permanent display in Scaife Gallery 2. Entitled The Honorable Mrs. Trevor, this full-size portrait is considered one of Romney’s finest works,” said Lynn Zelevansky, Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art. None of the five works going to auction are of the same extraordinary quality as The Honorable Mrs. Trevor (1779–1780), and have not been on display at the museum since the 1930s.
The process of deaccessioning began in April 2010 when the paintings were reviewed by Zelevansky and the museum’s collection committee, who recommended that the museum’s Board go forward with deaccessioning and auction. The plan to auction the items was approved in June 2010 by the Board members.
In keeping with the deaccessioning guidelines outlined by the Association of Art Museum Directors (see position paper “Art Museums and the Practice of Deaccessioning”), the museum will place the income generated from this auction into funds specifically designated for the purchase of works of art. All five paintings were given to the museum by Mrs. J. Willis Dalzell, in memory of her husband. The work or works purchased with funds from this deaccessioning will be credited as “J. Willis Dalzell Memorial Collection, bequest of Mrs. J. Willis Dalzell.”
The works of art to be deaccessioned are:
- John Mills, c. 1780–1785, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in.
- Admiral Sir John Orde, 1781–1789, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in.
- Colin Dunlop of Carmyle, Provost of Glasgow, c. 1795, oil on canvas, 44 x 34 in.
- Mary Pemberton, 1786–1787, oil on canvas, 29 x 24 1/2 in.
- Mrs. Bruce, 1785, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 1/4 in.
Decisions regarding deaccessions are made in keeping with the museum’s deaccessioning policy, which is as follows:
The Board recognizes that museums’ collections may occasionally be strengthened by the wise and constructive sale or exchange of previously acquired works of art. Accordingly, on the recommendation of the Director, the Board or the Collections Committee as described hereafter may deaccession works of art from the museum’s collections. The Board or Collections Committee will consider recommendations for deaccessioning from the Director or Curator under the following procedure.
A The responsible Curator will determine the reasons for deaccessioning a work of art, which may include that it is not of sufficient quality to be held in the collections; has deteriorated beyond its usefulness; is a duplicate in function; is inferior to other examples in the collection; or that the proceeds from the sale or exchange can be used towards acquiring a superior work of art which acquisition will improve the quality of the museum collections. Works of art by a living artist may be deaccessioned as long as at least one example of the artist’s work remains in the collection or if the museum intends to purchase another work by that artist.
B The Curator will formulate a recommendation for deaccessioning a work of art and discuss it with the Director.
C The Curator will present any recommendation to a meeting of the museum’s curators and the Director.
D A recommendation must be in writing and include a completed deaccession report form for the object. The deaccession report form must include a written estimate of the value of the object and the basis used for determining that value; a copy of research results revealing that there are no legal impediments or restrictions on the object; and a declaration describing any precatory conditions that may be attached to the object. The Curator will also bring to the Director’s attention any living donors or, if the donors are deceased, close relatives or others who may have special concern. The Director will determine whether or not notification or consultation is necessary.
Objects with a museum value or original purchase price in excess of $1,000 and up to $10,000 shall be presented for deaccession consideration with at least one outside opinion.
Objects with a museum value or original purchase price in excess of $10,000 and up to $25,000 shall be presented for deaccession consideration with at least one outside appraisal.
Objects with a museum value or original purchase price in excess of $25,000 and up to $100,000 shall be presented for deaccession consideration with at least two outside appraisals.
Objects with a museum value or original purchase price in excess of $100,000 shall be presented for deaccession consideration, if possible, with at least three outside appraisals.
E On the basis of the supporting material and the discussions described, the Director will decide whether to proceed with a recommendation to the Collections Committee.
F The Collections Committee will hear any recommendations of the Director and Curator and review the deaccession report form and file for the object. The Collections Committee can approve individual objects appraised at up to $25,000 for deaccession. For individual objects appraised at over $25,000 or for a collection of objects whose total value exceeds $25,000 the Collections Committee will make a recommendation to the full Board which has authority to approve the deaccessioning.
G The Collections Committee, on the recommendation of the Director, will determine whether or not the museum’s name will be associated with the sale of an object.
H Curatorial and Registrar’s files for deaccessioned objects shall be as complete as possible. These files shall be maintained in perpetuity and made available for scholarly inquiry.
I Deaccessions shall be reported in the Annual Report.
J Proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned objects will be used for the purchase of works of art. Except by special action of the Board which dictates otherwise, these funds will be used for purchases for the curatorial section from which the deaccessioned objects came.
K The original purchase fund or donor credit line(s) shall be carried over from a deaccessioned object to the newly acquired objects.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European works from the 16th century to the present. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the physical environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our web site at www.cmoa.org.