Enfilade

Judge Rules Benjamin West Altarpiece Can Go to Boston

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on July 21, 2013

From The Art Newspaper (11 July 2013) . . .

Anglican Court Says Benjamin West Altarpiece Can Go to Boston
City of London church to sell the masterpiece to fund repairs

By Martin Bailey

Thomas Malton (1748-1804), St Stephen Walbrook, London, watercolour over pencil, heightened with scratching out 26  x 18 inches (646 x 447 mm), Lowel Libson LTD (London).

Thomas Malton (1748-1804), St Stephen Walbrook, London, watercolour over pencil, heightened with scratching out, 26 x 18 inches (646 x 447 mm)
Lowell Libson LTD (London).
West’s Devout Men Taking Away the Body of St Stephen is visible at the altar.

A Church of England court has ruled that Benjamin West’s altarpiece, Devout Men Taking Away the Body of St Stephen, 1776, which was made for one of the most important churches in the City of London can be sold for display in the US. The $2.85m painting is being bought by an anonymous foundation, which is due to lend it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (The Art Newspaper, April 2013, pp6–7 and June 2013, p3). West was born in America, but worked in England.

In his judgment, delivered on 10 July, Judge Nigel Seed, chancellor of the consistory court of the Diocese of London, ruled that St Stephen Walbrook should be allowed to sell the masterpiece. The painting had been removed from the church in around 1987, in what he described as “perceived illegal actions”, and has since been kept in storage. . .

The full article is available here»

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As a starting place in the scholarly literature:

Jerry D. Meyer, “Benjamin West’s St Stephen Altar-Piece: A Study
in Late Eighteenth-Century Protestant Church Patronage and English
History Painting,” The Burlington Magazine 118 (September 1976): 634-41.

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