Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire County Council's sale of artworks a 'major cultural loss'

Brandis 1944 - John Tunnard Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption John Tunnard's Brandis painting was sold for £37,000

A Conservative-run local authority's decision to sell off 450 of its artworks has been condemned by a group of MPs as a "major cultural loss".

Hertfordshire County Council sold part of its collection at auctions for £469,282 earlier this year.

It said the paintings had "little relevance to the county".

A parliamentary group focusing on arts said it was wrong to take the artworks away from those it was originally "intended for".

The council began to acquire the paintings in 1949 as part of the School Loan Collection, an initiative where schools could borrow art to give pupils access to contemporary works.

Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption Anne Redpath's Blue Plate was sold for £31,000

Members of a cross-party parliamentary group focussed on art, craft and design in education said the council's actions have set a "worrying precedent for other local authority collections", says the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

In a letter Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson, signed by the chair Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, it said the group "firmly believe that all children and young people should have as much access to arts as possible, and that this decision will have far-reaching consequences for many years to come".

In response to the MPs' letter, the council stressed the decisions relating to the art collection were subject to consultation, before any action was taken.

A council spokesman said if the MPs had contacted the council "we could have fully explained the processes we have been through".

Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption Composition On A Blue Ground II 1933 by Edward Wadsworth was sold for £19,000

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