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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Lord Irvine to bid farewell to masterpiece
Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor
Irvine had been accused of 'looting' artwork
Derry Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, is to hand back a "borrowed" prized painting that has taken pride of place at his luxurious Westminster residence.

Lord Irvine had been under pressure to return The Beach at Trouville, by the 19th-century French artist Eugene Boudin, to the National Gallery of Scotland after protests from relatives of the former owner.

The masterpiece is one of five Boudins bequeathed to the Edinburgh gallery by Jessie Blair Agnew at the time of her death in 1978.

Her family claim the paintings had been left on condition they were held together and should be displayed in an exhibition of Impressionist painting or be "available for the people of Scotland".

On the move

Sir Timothy Clifford, of the National Galleries of Scotland, told the Evening Standard on Thursday that the artwork would be collected within weeks.

The painting, which was loaned by the Edinburgh gallery to the Palace of Westminster four years ago, was among 1m worth of art work taken from Scottish galleries to adorn Lord Irvine's abode.

Artwork
A piece of artwork from a public gallery
The move prompted Alex Salmond, the SNP former leader, to accuse the Lord Chancellor, at the time, of "looting and pillaging" Scottish art works.

The Beach at Trouville is currently on display in the Lord Chancellor's apartment, which the public can visit twice a week.

Only pre-booked groups can tour the residence and often these are organised by charities as a fund-raising exercise.

'Distress and anger'

Prince Charles heaped praise on the "wonderful" paintings on display in leaked letters between him and Lord Irvine.

The family of Jessie Blair Agnew wrote to the Evening Standard expressing their "distress and anger" that the work was hanging in Lord Irvine's residence.

"The implication that it is only due to the philanthropy of the Lord Chancellor that they are now seen is to us both insulting and hurtful - not to mention totally untrue," the family said.

"The Boudins within the bequest were displayed, as intended, at the National Gallery of Scotland and have been exhibited as 'Boudin at Trouville' in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow and the Courtauld Institute in London."

A Lord Chancellor's department spokeswoman had said the painting would be returned if the National Gallery of Scotland asked for it back.

See also:

19 Feb 01 | Politics
21 Feb 01 | Politics
20 Apr 98 | UK

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