The Irish Georgian Society Deplores Sale of Art from Russborough

The sale from Russborough House, Co. Wicklow, of Old Master paintings by Rubens, Adriaen van Ostade, David Teniers the Younger, and Francesco Guardi will represent an irredeemable loss to our national cultural patrimony and to the legacy of Sir Alfred and Lady Clementine Beit. While acknowledging the difficulties faced by the Alfred Beit Foundation, the Irish Georgian Society is dismayed that such a course of action has been taken. It was only with the recent report in the media that the Society learned of this sale.

Sir Alfred and Lady Beit will forever be recognised as among the greatest champions of the arts in Ireland. They placed their home, the Richard Castle designed Russborough, and the greater part of their internationally important art collection in trust, for the benefit of the Irish nation, through the Alfred Beit Foundation. They also made an extraordinary gift to the National Gallery of Ireland of sixteen of their finest pictures including paintings by Vermeer, Metsu, Murillo Hobbema and Ruisdael. In today’s terms the value of these gifts runs to hundreds of millions of euro.

The nation recognised this outstanding contribution to Ireland by conferring on Sir Alfred and Lady Beit honorary Irish citizenship in 1993.

Given the Beits’ outstanding contribution to Ireland and the recognition this has received in the past, it is deplorable that their legacy is to be diminished through the upcoming auction of Old Master paintings from their collection. These are irreplaceable paintings and will undoubtedly be lost forever to Ireland. The Irish Georgian Society greatly regrets that the radical depletion of this legacy is envisaged and calls on the Alfred Beit Foundation and on the Irish government, which gladly embraced these gifts when they were made, to reverse this decision.

Signed on behalf of the board of the Irish Georgian Foundation:
Patrick Guinness, President Irish Georgian Society
Dr David Fleming, Chairman Irish Georgian Foundation