The Archdiocese of Philadelphia plans to sell part of the art collection at its St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, including five portraits by artist Thomas Eakins.
Church officials told the Philadelphia Inquirer they plan to use the money to help overhaul the seminary’s St. Charles’ Main Line campus. The seminary will be shrunk in the process but renovated at the same time.
“The seminary has long been a steward of these works, but this was the right time to seize an opportunity to do what is best for the artwork and for the seminary itself,” said Bishop Timothy Senior, the rector at St. Charles. “We will keep many of the paintings in our collection, but the core mission of the seminary is to form men for services in the priesthood. We are not a museum.”
Most of the paintings will be sold in an auction through Christie’s, the worldwide auction house which has offices in Philadelphia.
A sixth Eakins painting that is kept at the seminary but owned by the American Catholic Historical Society will also be sold through Christie’s. Two paintings by other artists are being consigned for sale through other brokers.
Eakins painted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.