Paintings on the block

Published December 1, 2001


The Church of England is planning to sell a set of religious paintings that have hung in one of its grandest bishops’ palaces for more than 200 years in order to boost the church’s investment funds.

The paintings, by the 17th-century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran, show the biblical patriarch Jacob and his twelve sons. The set is estimated to be worth at least $15 million (US). The paintings hang in the Auckland Castle residence of the bishop of Durham, Michael Turnbull.

Campaigners opposed to the planned sale say the castle’s Long Dining Room was created to accommodate the paintings and “is probably the first picture gallery in Europe to be so designed.”

Bishop Turnbull has defended the decision of the church authorities to sell the paintings but has urged that they stay in the region.


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