Philadelphia seminary to sell art collection

The Eakins room at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia (William Innes Homer)

The Eakins room at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia (William Innes Homer), via National Catholic Reporter

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia has announced that it will sell seven of its important paintings as part of a campus-wide consolidation plan. Six of the works are by 19th-century painter Thomas Eakins, whose work titled “The Gross Clinic” sold for $68 million in 2008.

Christie’s has been hired to sell five Eakins works: “The Right Reverend James F. Loughlin” (1902), “Reverend James P. Turner” (1900), “James A. Flaherty” (1903), “Dr. Patrick Garvey” (1902) and “Archbishop James Frederick Wood” (1877). The seminary has also enlisted Bonhams to sell Colin Campbell Cooper’s “St. Peter’s Cathedral” (undated) and Sotheby’s to sell Alice Neel’s “Archbishop Jadot” (1976).

A sixth Eakins painting, owned by the American Catholic Historical Society and on display at the seminary, is also to be sold.

“The seminary has long been a steward of these works, but this was the right time to seize an opportunity to do what is best for the artwork and for the seminary itself,” Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Senior, seminary rector, said in a March 21 statement. The seminary’s core mission is to form men for priestly service, he added. “We are not a museum.”

Read more in the National Catholic Reporter.

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