Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mahon Bequest - terms broken already?

Picture: The Art Newspaper
Denis Mahon's bequest of 57 baroque pictures to British collections has just been completed.  He also made bequests to the National Gallery of Ireland, and to the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna.  The National gallery produced a fine catalogue of his collection when it was exhibited in its entirety (Discovering the Italian Baroque by Gabriele Finaldi and Michael Kitson), including the non-UK bequests, and also a few paintings that he sold in the 1970s.  Much has been made of his condition that free entry must be maintained at the galleries benefiting from his bequests, but Temple Newsam received a painting, and it charges for admission - as does the Pinacoteca Nazionale.  So the terms are broken on the day it's announced! 


  1. Hello Grumpy Art Historian

    The Museum and galleries Online website
    makes it clear at the bottom of the page on the matter that the bequest to Temple Newsam was excluded from the stipulations of free entry:

    "Note: A reference to free admission is not part of the terms of the bequest to Temple Newsam House, which has charged for admission since it opened to the public in 1922. Mola’s Landscape with two Carthusian Monks, was sold at auction by Lord Halifax, owner of Temple Newsam House in 1947. Sir Denis bought the work at that auction in order for it to return to the museum, and it now hangs in the same spot as it is recorded to have hung in Temple Newsam’s 1808 inventory."

    The Art Fund has no jurisdiction over the pictures sent to Bologna; indeed these were given Export Licences in Mahon's lifetime as part of the deal that secured the 57 pictures for the 6 British Galleries via the Art Fund.

    Mahon was too shrewd and intelligent not to have covered all possibilities and eventualities.

    Stephen Conrad

  2. Thanks - very interesting. But it does suggest a more contingent commitment to free admission than has generally been reported. I'm going to write something on free admission next week. I'm a strong supporter, for what it's worth, but I don't think it should be an absolute.