Delaware Art Museum is Sanctioned, Loses Accreditation

  • William Holman Hunt's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" sold for $4.25 million at Christie's.

    William Holman Hunt's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" sold for $4.25 million at Christie's.

    Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum sold one of its finest Pre-Raphaelite paintings on Tuesday, and punishments from the museum world were swift.

A committee of the American Alliance of Museums voted unanimously Wednesday to revoke the Delaware museum's accreditation. Also, the Association of Art Museum Directors advised its members to stop loaning works to the Delaware Art Museum and collaborating on exhibitions. 

The museum sold William Holman Hunt's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil," at auction on Tuesday for $4.25 million, far below Christie's low estimate of $8.4 million. It is one of four or more works that Delaware said it would sell to raise $30 million for debt repayment and to shore up an endowment. Winslow Homer's 1875 "Milking Time" and Alexander Calder's 1959 "Black Crescent" mobile are two other works that have disappeared from the museum galleries and database, but have not been confirmed as upcoming sales.

"With this sale, the museum is treating its works from its collection as disposable assets, rather than irreplaceable cultural heritage that it holds in trust for people now and in the future," the AAMD said in a statement about the Holman Hunt auction. "It is also sending a clear signal to its audiences that private support is unnecessary, since it can always sell additional items from its collection to cover its costs."

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