Paintings

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The Parochial Church Council sought permission to sell a painting attributed to the school of Francesco Albani and entitled "Ecce Homo", depicting a blood-spattered figure of Christ in a red cloak. The picture had been given to the church in 1921, and since then had hung on the north aisle wall. The painting was in need of a considerable amount of conservation work. The Church Buildings Council felt unable to recommend a sale. The PCC maintained that(a) the cost of insurance would be very high, (b) the painting was liable to be stolen, (c) it needed expensive restoration and would be liable to on-going deterioration, (d) whatever its intrinsic merits, the painting was not an essential part of the Church's architecture, worship or heritage and (e) a small congregation  was desperately anxious to focus its available resources on promoting the mission of the Church. On these considerations the Chancellor determined that a Faculty should be granted.

The PCC arranged to sell at auction a painting of the Madonna and Child, by a German painter, Franz Ittenback (1813-1979) at a reserve of £3,000. It was sold for £20.000 to a dealer, who spent a considerable amount on restoring it before it came to the attention of the Archdeacon that the painting had been sold without the authority of a Faculty. The PCC then sought a Confirmatory Faculty. In a long judgment the Chancellor sets out the law relating to objects belonging to churches and the obligations of churchwardens, and explains that no title can pass when an object such as the painting is sold without the authority of a Faculty. The Church Buildings Council objected to the sale. The Chancellor determined that the reasons for granting a Confirmatory Faculty outweighed the reasons for not doing so.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to confirm the renewal and restoration of the 31’ x 21’ mural “Christ in Glory”.

The petitioners (the Rector and Churchwardens) sought to dispose by sale of the painting "The Descent of Christ from the Cross", said to be from the workshop of Pieter Coecke Van Aelst, a sixteenth century Flemish artist. The painting is part of a triptych, the wings of which are in the Californian Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The Church Buildings Council objected to the proposal. In Re St Lawrence, Oakley with Wootton St. Lawrence [2014], Court of Arches, considered by the Chancellor: 'When I ... pose to myself the question:"Have the petitioners demonstrated factors of such qualitative weight as to outweigh the strong presumption against sale?" I find that I am driven to the conclusion that the only proper answer to that question is "No"'. Faculty refused.

In 1959, a faculty had been granted to authorise the introduction into the church of a painting entitled 'Ecce, Homo', which was attributed to Murillo. The Chancellor was now asked to grant a confirmatory faculty for the loan of the painting to the Bristol Art Gallery in 2012, which had taken place without the authority of a faculty. The Church Buildings Council supported the loan in the interests of the care and security of the painting, subject to a good quality copy being placed in the church. The Chancellor granted a faculty subject to that condition.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to allow the sale of a painting of the Ascension, by the 18th century Italian artist Vincenzo Damini. The painting was originally in the church of St. Peter-at-Arches, Lincoln. That church had been demolished and the painting was transferred to St. Giles Church before it opened in 1936. The Chancellor was satisfied that a case had been made for the disposal of the painting, for which the parish did not have suficient sources to secure adequately in the church: "In order for me to grant a faculty the Petitioners must persuade me on the balance of probabilities that some good and sufficient ground has been proved. A good ground is a “special reason”. I am satisfied that the special reason here is the fact that there is no longer a meaningful relationship between the church of St Giles and the painting. I am also satisfied that in the present financial circumstances of this church, that ground is a sufficient ground, notwithstanding that the painting may be lost to Lincoln."

Confirmatory Faculty refused for the retention in a Grade I twelfth or thirteenth century church of a modern painting of the Baptism of Christ, which was hung next to the font and which had been commissioned by a previous rector.

The Rector and Churchwardens sought a faculty for the sale of a fifteenth century religious painting portraying the betrayal of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The painting was so valuable that the Parochial Church Council was unable to afford to insure the painting or provide an adequate security system. The Diocesan Advisory Committee and the Council for the Care of Churches objected to the disposal of the painting by sale. The Chancellor was satisfied that the valuable painting could not be kept safe in the small rural church and granted a faculty allowng the painting to be sold to an art gallery or museum.