On Sept 29, Christies’ will have a sale of American paintings, drawings and sculpture.
From the press release:
Spanning the country’s most important historical periods, this sale will bring together Modernist, American Impressionist, Surrealist and Western works by many of the most celebrated names in American art. Kay Sage, Reginald Marsh, Edward Kemeys, Sally Michel Avery and William Aiken Walker are just a sampling of artists represented in the sale. Also look for a selection of works offered by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Denver Art Museum, the Montclair Art museum and the Delaware Art Museum sold to benefit the acquisitions fund.
In one particular case, Helen Farr Sloan chose the Delaware Art Museum, a relatively small museum, to place her husband’s works simply because she wanted the collection to stay together and contribute an important part of a regional art institute. In this particular sale, there are four paintings by John Sloan and three of them are noted to be from the Estate of Helen Farr Sloan and the John Sloan Trust, for the benefit of museum acquisition fund.
From one of the Delaware Art Museum’s own archived press releases, I found the information of the “Helen Farr Sloan Revocable Trust.” It includes both cash and works of art that the Museum can use to further its mission, primarily for curatorial and educational purposes. “Funds will be available for the research, development, and presentation of the Museum’s permanent collections as well as temporary and traveling exhibitions, with priority given to projects that further scholarship pertaining to John Sloan, his artistic circle known as ‘The Eight,’ and the Museum’s related holdings. Funds can also be used for conservation and to support the salaries of curatorial and Library staff. The funds cannot, for the most part, be used for the purchase of art nor to support any future construction or renovation projects, such funds having been placed in a restricted fund pursuant to the terms of the trust.”
In the obituary published at Antiques and the Arts, it mentions that Helen transferred the John Sloan Trust to the Delaware Art Museum, thus I can only conclude the Sloan paintings offered at Christie’s will be sold by the museum for the museum, against the donor’s intention.
I still remembered the exhibition “Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York” at Westmoreland Museum of American Art near Pittsburgh. In one of the lectures, Judith O’Toole, the director, vividly recalled her encounterance with Helen and praised her efforts to protect and preserve Sloan’s legacy. Perhaps she should have kept the independence status of the Trust, which would have allowed the works to be temporarily exhibited throughout the country in order to reach a greater audience. There is an old saying — rules are made to be broken. I wondered how Helen would feel if she knew the money obtained from deaccessioning Sloan’s works are used to acquire OTHER’s works.