Artists’ Estates

We had an all-day event at the RA on Artists’ Estates – ‘Managing the Artists’ Legacy’ – which turned out to be wildly popular, particularly amongst artists concerned as to what to do about managing their inheritance.   I was asked about relationships with museums and initially thought that I didn’t know the answer as I had no recollection of ever being approached by artists concerned about their legacy;  but then I realised that there is a historical dimension to this.   Reynolds has much less of a legacy because his great collection of paintings and drawings was turned down by the RA – I assume because they did not want to be burdened by the responsibility of managing a historic collection (or was it because they were resistant to him imposing his will on the organisation in his old age ?).   On the other hand, they were only too happy to accept a gift of a work by Gainsborough from his daughter, Margaret, and a more generous gift of paintings and watercolours from Constable’s daughter, Isabel.   Turner left a will which was famously tricky and contested by his family.   Francis Chantrey left an extraordinarily generous will, and is now better remembered for his Bequest than his work.   So, there are plenty of historic precedents, good and bad.

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5 thoughts on “Artists’ Estates

  1. Martin Hopkinson says:

    I am sorry that I missed this important event. Will it result in any sort of publication on line or in other means? Heirs to artist’s studios, as well as artists themselves, often need guidance, particularly if the artist has not had any strong link with a dealer. Sometimes studio contents remain largely intact for many years and suddenly the heirs have to make serious decisions at relatively short notice. Legal guidance and advice would be very valuable

  2. I’m sorry I missed it too. Apart from my late husband, Maurice de Sausmarez’s paintings, I am also trying to sort out his archive. As he never threw anything away, I find myself in possession of the history of art education from 1939 to 1969. He was also chairman of the AIA in the forties, so there are all the letters in relation to that as well as his writings about education and other artists. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  3. The quality of Collections in both National and Regional Museums has always been indebted to legacies and gifts – Turner; Constable; Lawrence, the Davies Sisters etc etc. And by D’Offay, Saatchi; in our lifetime.

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