Getty seeks to buy major Parmigianino

August 30 2016

Image of Getty seeks to buy major Parmigianino

Picture: Getty

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles has bought, or at least is seeking to buy, a major work by Parmigianino currently in Britain; 'The virgin and Child with St John and Mary Magdalene'. The LA Times reports that the sale is being brokered through Sotheby's, and an export licence has been applied for. But no value is given, and so far I can see no reference to the picture on the export licensing website - so it must be in the early stages of the process. 

The picture is part of the Sudeley Castle collection. It used to be on loan to the National Gallery in London. I hesitate to place a value on such a rare and important thing - but it must be in the tens of millions. Let us hope some UK museum wants to lead the charge to keep it. 

Incidentally, I see from the export license website that the application to export the £30m Pontormo Portrait of a Man has been deferred till October. Which presumably means someone is making a bold bid to keep it in the UK - though there has been no public campaign.

Update - a reader writes:

Just a note to say how much I always enjoy your blog.  Reading your story on the possible purchase of the Parmigianino by the Getty, something rang a bell and I went to the Getty website, which confirmed that this would be at least the third item from the Sudeley Castle collection to enter the Getty, the other two being the magnificent Poussin "Calm" and Rubens' Miracles of Saint Francis of Paola.  I don't remember the Rubens, but the Poussin is one of the greatest landscapes I know, a masterpiece in the same class as the Kimbell's new Ruisdael.

Update II - Clovis Whitfield writes:

The Parmigianino - I published this in the Burlington in 1982, with Sydney Freedberg dissenting. Maybe the NG's 1974 purchase of the 'Mystic Marriage' got in the way of its recognition, (which they declared was the best Parmigianino in Britain) they hadn't heard of it and the powers that were decided to call the Sudeley work [as by] Mazzola Bedoli instead. I'm glad that it now appears to have got past that attributional difficulty. I hadn't heard of the Getty sale, but it is a little like the Poussin 'Temps Calme' landscape, which I discovered at Sudeley and published in the Burlington (1979)  after it had long been called Gaspard. Anthony Blunt saw it with me and scratched his head; 'who can it be  Orizzonte?'  But I think there too taste caught up before it was bought by the Getty (with great secrecy, at least from me) in 1997 for $26m.

A great collection; [originally] that of James Morrison [which] used to be at Basildon, but [was] then in store over the War years. [It was] inherited by Mark Dent-Brocklehurst (died 1969) and brought to Sudeley.

Come to think of it, the family have sold quite a great selection of James Morrison's collection!  The Poussin 'Richelieu Triumph of Pan' to the NG 1982, the 1660 Claude 'Adoration of the Golden Calf' to Manchester Art Gallery, 1981, the Hobbema to the National Galleries of Scotland, the Rubens 'Holy Family with a Cupid', c.1630, to the Ruzicka Foundation, Zurich Kunsthaus (1986), the Constable six-footer of 'The Lock', bought at auction by Baron Thyssen for £10.7m in 1990, the Rubens of 'The Miracle of St Francis of Paola' (now in the  Getty Museum), the Jan Steen 'Grace before Meat' (Sotheby's December 2012, £5.6m),

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