Beit group decides not to sell valuable Rubens
Russborough obtained export licence for ‘Portrait of a Monk’ and two more Rubens
Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Portrait of a bearded man, in three-quarter profile, bust-length, with a white collar and gold chainsoil on oak panel has an estimate of £2m to £3m.
Russborough House has decided not to sell a valuable Rubens oil painting that it got an export licence for earlier this year.
The painting, Portrait of a Monk, Bust-Length, was one of three by Rubens that Russborough obtained an export licence for on March 16th. The other two are among a group of nine pictures from Russborough due to be auctioned at Christie’s in London.
In a statement, the Alfred Beit Foundation (ABF) which runs Russborough, confirmed it had received an export licence for Portrait of a Monk. It said the licence had been released under Freedom of Information and was in the public domain.
The statement said the foundation “had decided not to sell this work and it will return to Ireland”.
The export licence indicated the painting was to be sent to Christie’s. It was not listed for any particular auction, leading to speculation it was to be sold privately. The wording of the foundation’s statement confirmed it had left Ireland. No further explanation was offered for the decision.
Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish Baroque painter who lived between 1577 and 1640, is one of the most revered Old Masters. One of his paintings discovered hanging in a monastery in Austria made $76.7 million (€68.07m) in 2002.
The estimates in the Christie’s catalogue for the two Russborough Rubens to be auctioned on July 9th are £2 million to £3 million (€2.76m-€4.14m) for Head of a Bearded Man and £1.2 million to £1.8 million for Venus Supplicating Jupiter.
The late Sir Alfred and Lady Beit created the foundation in 1976 to preserve Russborough House in Co Wicklow and its valuable collection of paintings for the Irish people.
“At all times the trustees have sought to be guided by what the Beits would have wished insofar as that was possible to do.”
However, in a BBC television programme in 1985 the Beits stressed the importance they attached to keeping the collection intact.
Sir Alfred said they had “done the weeding out” and “frankly there’s little or nothing that I would like to get rid of now, however much I might like to buy something else”.
Lady Beit said: “We really don’t want to sell anything. After all, the whole object of what we’ve done here at Russborough, opening to the public and that kind of thing, and why we’ve done it, is to try and keep the collection as it is in the house.”
Sir Alfred added: “Intact.”
And Lady Beit confirmed: “Intact.”
Mick O’Dea, Royal Hibernian Academy president, said: “It’s quite clear that Sir Alfred and Lady Beit intended to keep the collection as it was: in the house and intact.”