Kent Online News, March 10, 2011
Art may be food for the soul, but for town councillors it could soon be feeding the meter.
Tenterden Town Council plans to sell off an oil painting worth £30,000 to pay for new heating in the town hall. Members agreed this week to auction ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes’ which has hung in the hall since it was restored in 1982. The 17th-century work by Gerard Seghers, which a councillor’s friend gave to the town in 1948, depicts a Jewish widow who murders the commander of Assyrian forces besieging her city. Yet the painting was nearly consigned to history in the 1960s after workmen removed it from the Pebbles, the former library in the High Street. Town hall keeper Frank Curtis reached into a skip to save the tattered work, which was restored and placed in the mayor’s parlour. But it soon had to be moved yet again – when the town registrar deemed Judith’s bare breast and the severed head inappropriate for weddings, which take place there. Now it will be sent to London auction house Christie’s with a reserve of £30,000. Town clerk Hester Deackes said: “Personally I like it very much, but it doesn’t fit with anything particularly. It’s just a beautiful painting of which there are others exactly the same.” Insurance broker Paul Golmick, of Mayfield, East Sussex, gave the painting to his friend and former Tenterden mayor Leslie Chalk in 1948. Councillors need more than £50,000 to replace the hall’s heating system, which Mrs Deackes described as “totally antiquated”.
Well, bless her heart. Poor thing gets tipped into the trash bin, kicked out of the wedding, then traded for a heating system. Is there no respect left in the civilized world? Would they have been as rude to David and Goliath?