Thursday, 31 March 2011

Zurbaráns Saved

This is one of Jacob's twelve sons, a set painted by Francisco de Zurbarán from 1640 to 1645 and bought by Bishop Richard Trevor in 1756 for £124. To complete the set, Trevor commissioned a copy of the youngest son Benjamin from British artist Arthur Pond. According to The Jewish Chronicle Online, Pond's Benjamin hangs in Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire. What has JC got to do with this story? Apparently Bishop Trevor was a much-needed friend to Jews in England and his purchase of the Zurbarán paintings is still seen as a statement of support. JC was one of a number of organisations which raised concern last year at the possible sale of these paintings by C of E Church Commissioners (CLICK). The 8ft high portraits tower over diners in a room specifically designed to house them: the Long Dining Room in Auckland Castle, home of the Bishops of Durham for over 800 years and still the Bishop's official residence. To cut a long story short, investment manager Jonathan Ruffer has bought the paintings for £15m and given them back to the Church as a gift through the newly created Zurbaran Trust. They will remain in Auckland Castle (title link) which will be turned into a major tourist trap (CLICK).


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