Benjamin West’s Milkmaids in St James’s Park, Westminster Abbey beyond, around 1800
The role of milkmaids became a topic of discussion for the UK’s Export Reviewing Committee. Benjamin West’s Milkmaids in St James’s Park, Westminster Abbey beyond, around 1800, was sold at Christie’s last year for £218,500, and we can report that it was bought by the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. Astonishingly, right up until 1905 cows were pastured in St James’s Park and young milkmaids in rustic costume would sell fresh, warm milk to strollers. When the West recently came before the committee, their expert advisor sung its praises, saying it was of “outstanding” historical significance. The Yale Center’s representative, anxious to get an export licence, disagreed, saying that the picture would be unlikely to “reveal any new information pertaining to… milking cattle in the park”. The committee agreed—and the West has just arrived in America.
From In The Frame