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Herts County Council continues disposal of art collection with auction

Mazagan 1953 - John Minton (7629391)
Mazagan 1953 - John Minton (7629391)

A collection of art is to be auctioned off by Herts County Council this month.

The authority began to acquire the paintings in 1949 as part of the School Loan Collection so students were exposed to contemporary art.

However, the service was suspended in 2012 and permanently discontinued in 2017. The county council then concluded that owing to the number of artworks and the lack of resources to manage the collection properly, it posed a significant liability. The authority said remaining in storage, where conditions were not ideal and conservation needs were not addressed, was a danger.

It was therefore decided to gift a number of the pieces to schools, museums and interested organisations in the county, and sell a number of the works, retaining a more manageable number in the collection.

Cllr Terry Douris, cabinet member for education, libraries and localism, said: “It is the sensible thing to do. With 60% of the art collection languishing in storage and not available to the public, the county council believes that the approach it is taking to the art collection balances its fiduciary duty to its council taxpayers to use the full resources available to it to best advantage, whilst aiming to achieve much-improved access and display of the retained collection for the public.”

To date, 112 works have already been accepted as gifts by Hertfordshire organisations. These include works by Michael Brennard-Wood, Maurice Field, Launce Gribbin, Robin Mackertich, Leo McDowell, John Mills, Brynhild Parker and Marie Whitby. A further 1,074 works will be offered later this year.

A select 167 works are being retained by Hertfordshire County Council, including five wall hangings by the pre-eminent British artist weaver, Peter Collingwood.

Also remaining are works by notable Hertfordshire artists including Perry Green sculptor Henry Moore, John Akers, Rory J Browne, Mary Hoad and David Stowe.

On March 21 at 11am, 152 paintings will be offered for sale at Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers in Cambridge.

These include works by 20th century British artists, John Tunnard, Edward Wadsworth, Barbara Hepworth, and other prominent painters such as Joan Eardley, Julian Trevelyan, Anne Redpath, Robert McBryde and John Minton.

Two further auctions of works will be held in April and May.

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