Quinns gift €2m painting to State

Lochlann and Brenda Quinn to donate Beit painting to National Gallery of Ireland

One of the Beit paintings withdrawn from auction in London last year has been bought for €2 million and donated to the State.

Businessman Lochlann Quinn, part- owner of Dublin's five-star Merrion Hotel, has confirmed to The Irish Times that he and his wife Brenda have purchased A Village Kermesse near Antwerp by Flemish artist David Teniers II and donated it to the National Gallery of Ireland. Quinn is a brother of the former Labour Party leader Ruairí Quinn.

The painting is one of six "Old Masters" that the Alfred Beit Foundation had planned to sell at auction, at Christie's in London, to raise funds for the upkeep and conservation of Russborough House in Blessington, Co Wicklow.

However, following a public outcry, the paintings were withdrawn from sale and efforts were launched to find donors in Ireland to buy the paintings and donate them to the State.

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The house and many of the contents were left in trust to the State by the late Sir Alfred and Lady Beit.

Quinn and his wife can avail of the Revenue Commissioners’ section 1003 scheme, which allows 80 per cent tax relief in return for the donation of heritage items to Irish cultural institutions.

Approval for the €2 million valuation was granted by the Department of Arts & Heritage before Christmas after the painting was valued by independent experts. The department did not name the Quinns, citing the confidentiality of tax returns.

Ahead of the planned auction, Christie’s had published estimates for the painting of between stg £1.2 million and £ 1.8 million.

A Village Kermesse near Antwerp, by David Teniers II (a Flemish artist born in 1610; died 1690), dates from the 1640s and was acquired in around 1904 by Sir Alfred Beit's uncle Otto Beit in London for an unknown sum.

The painting depicts peasants dancing and merry-making in 17th century Flanders.

In the art market, the painting is also known by the title A Village Inn with Peasants Dancing and Merry Making to the Music of a Hurdy-Gurdy.

David Teniers II is also known as David Teniers the Younger; he was the son of David Teniers the Elder – also a famous artist.

The oil painting, on a copper panel measuring approximately 22 by 30 inches, depicts a village fair in 17th century Flanders.

In 2002, the Quinns donated a major painting by Louis le Brocquy entitled A Family to the National Gallery of Ireland.

The painting was bought for £1.7 million (equivalent to €2.75 million at the exchange rate then prevailing) from a London art dealer. The donation also benefited from tax credits, which allowed for 100 per cent of the value to be written off against tax.

Ironically, the le Brocquy painting had been offered free to the State (to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, in the 1950s) but was declined.

A Family was then acquired by Nestlé and hung in the multinational company's Milan offices until 2001 when the painting was sold by the company.