Pieces from Hertfordshire County Council’s art collection to be sold off next month

PUBLISHED: 10:56 11 February 2019

Pieces of art from Herts County Council's collection will be going under the hammer at auction. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pieces of art from Herts County Council's collection will be going under the hammer at auction. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Items from Herts County Council’s art collection are to go under the hammer next month, it has emerged.

In 2017, Hertfordshire County Council took the controversial decision to sell or give away hundreds of pieces of art it holds in its collection.

The first of those items to be offered for public sale are to be auctioned by Cambridge-based auctioneers Cheffins on March 21.

The sale – dubbed ‘The Curated Eye’ – Selected Works from Hertfordshire County Council – will include many of collection’s 20th century pieces.

According to the auctioneers, a pastel work from the Scottish artist Joan Eardley is expected to sell for between £12,000 and £18,000.

‘Blue Plate’ by Edinburgh School artist Anne Redpath has an estimate of between £10,000 and £15,000.

There is a still life by Robert MacBryde which has a sales estimate of between £7,000 and £10,000.

A full catalogue of the Hertfordshire County Council items included in the sale will be available from March 1.

Commenting on the plans for the sale, Cllr Terry Douris, the county council’s cabinet member for education, libraries and localism, said it was “the sensible thing to do”.

He said: “With 60 per cent of the art collection in storage and not available to the public, the county council believes that the approach balances its fiduciary duty to taxpayers to use the full resources available to it to best advantage, whilst aiming to achieve much improved access and display of the retained collection for the public.”

The county council began buying artworks in the collection in 1949, so they could be loaned to schools across the county.

Over the years it grew into an extensive collection of public art, including works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and John Nash, with a value that has been estimated at up to £26.2million.

The four most valuable sculptures in the collection, with an estimated value of £21.86million, have not been earmarked for disposal.

In June last year, a 1,500-signature petition was presented to the council, calling for the plans to dispose of the artworks to be halted and for the exploration of further ways to fund and manage the collection for future generations.

But members of the council voted to endorse the actions planned by the county council.

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