Deaccession of Genoese Old Master work, worth around £2.5m, cleared by museum bodies
By Martin Bailey. Web only
Published online: 22 April 2014
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Bernardo Strozzi, around 1620
Compton Verney, the country-house gallery in Warwickshire, is selling off a Bernardo Strozzi painting, worth around £2.5m. The deaccession of The Incredulity of St Thomas, dating to the early 1620s, has been approved by both the Arts Council and the Museums Association.
The painting, owned by the Compton Verney Collection Settlement, was bought at Sotheby’s in 1998 for £1.3m. It was purchased with funds from Sir Peter Moores, before he opened the gallery to the public in 2004. Moores had intended to start a collection of Genoese Old Masters, to complement his Neapolitan paintings. However, Strozzi’s work ended up being the only Genoese acquisition, and it has only briefly been displayed at Compton Verney.
A gallery spokesman told us: “Every effort will be made to keep the work in the UK and in the public sphere, and any amount raised will be used exclusively for future acquisitions at Compton Verney.”
When asked whether the painting would be offered to other public galleries as a donation or sale, the director, Steven Parissien, said that “a range of options” would be considered. However, the fact that the deaccessioning is being handled by a London dealer, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, points to a sale.
In early April, the Museums Association published its updated guidance on deaccessioning, which includes detailed advice on financially motivated disposals. This allows museums to sell to other museums when “the institution purchased the item with its own funds”.