Delaware Art Museum Sells Off Paintings by Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth

Winslow Homer Milking Time . Photo: The Bridgeman Library
Winslow Homer, Milking Time (1875). Photo: the Bridgeman Library.

Hopefully, the Delaware Art Museum is really and truly out of the hole. The financially-troubled institution has just sold two paintings by Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth, completing its four-piece fire sale.

“Today, we close one of the most difficult chapters in the story of the Delaware Art Museum,” said museum CEO Mike Miller in a statement. “We reached our most important goal—keeping the museum open and thriving.”

The sale prices for Homer’s Milking Time (1875) and Wyeth’s Arthur Cleveland (1946) have not been disclosed.

The News Journal reports that the buyer could have been Wyeth’s son, Jamie Wyeth, also an accomplished painter, who had expressed interest in buying works by his father and grandfather, N.C. Wyeth, should they be on the Delaware Museum’s chopping block.

Andrew Wyeth, <em>Arthur Cleveland</em> (1946).  Photo: courtesy the Delaware Art Museum.

Andrew Wyeth, Arthur Cleveland (1946).
Photo: courtesy the Delaware Art Museum.

The museum came under fire this past March when it announced plans to sell four works to pay off a lingering $19.8 million debt from its 2005 expansion and renovation.

The Association of American Museum Directors (AAMD) warned Delaware that selling artworks for purposes other than acquiring new pieces for the collection was a “serious violation” of its code of ethics and professional standards, but the museum was undeterred.

The AAMD sanctioned the foundering museum last June after the sale of William Holman Hunt‘s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece, Isabella and the Pot of Basilfor a dismal $4.25 million on an $8.4 million–13.4 million estimate. As a result of the sanction, Delaware is no longer an accredited institution, which complicates its ability to receive loans from other museums.

William Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868). Photo: courtesy the Delaware Art Museum.

William Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868). Photo: courtesy the Delaware Art Museum.

The museum later raised $10.6 million from the private sale of Black Crescent, an Alexander Calder mobile, and made it known that the Homer canvas and a to-be-named fourth work would also be coming to market.

When the museum announced in September that it had eliminated its debt by borrowing from its own investment fund, there was hope that Milking Time might not be sold after all. Unfortunately, the museum needed to replenish its endowment, and claimed the additional deaccessioning was a necessity.


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