Russborough House gets export licence for third Rubens

Alfred Beit Foundation’s licence covers 10 paintings including three worth over £1m

Russborough House is sending two Rubens paintings to Christie’s for auction while it is not known where the third is located. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Russborough House is sending two Rubens paintings to Christie’s for auction while it is not known where the third is located. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Russborough House has obtained an export licence for another Rubens painting, in addition to the two Rubens it has included in a group of nine pictures sent to London for auction by Christie’s.

The licence, dated March 16th last, which has been seen by The Irish Times, covers 10 paintings – the nine due to be sold by Christie’s in sales in the coming weeks and a 10th, titled Portrait of a Monk, Bust-Length.

The Alfred Beit Foundation, which owns Russborough, has declined to comment on this painting. It is not known whether it has already been sold privately or where it is currently located. Its value is likely to be well in excess of £1 million.

The estimates in the Christie’s catalogue for the two other Rubens being sold are £2 million-£3 million for Head of a Bearded Man and £1.2 million-£1.8 million for Venus Supplicating Jupiter.

Valuable collection

Explaining the decision to sell the nine paintings at Christie’s, Judith Woodworth, chairwoman of the foundation, has said “selling this small and very carefully selected group of paintings is an absolute necessity” in order to fund the “urgent need of ongoing major restoration, maintenance and improvements” at Russborough. However, more than 2,400 people have signed an online petition calling for a halt to the sale.

It emerged recently that a painting that had hung in Russborough until lately has been sold privately. The Cabinet of Physical Sciences by Jacques de Lajoue was sold without publicity for more than £500,000.