By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: December 5, 2008
(image: Frederic Edwin Church’s “Scene on the Magdalene” (1854), an oil on canvas)
The National Academy, the venerable artist-governed museum and school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has quietly sold two Hudson River School paintings from its collection to shore up its finances and enable it to show more of its holdings on a consistent basis, the academy’s officials said on Friday.
The sale of the paintings, Frederic Edwin Church’s “Scene on the Magdalene” from 1854 and Sanford Robinson Gifford’s “Mount Mansfield, Vermont” from 1859, was sharply criticized by the Association of Art Museum Directors, which has a longstanding policy of strongly discouraging museums from deaccessioning artworks unless the money is being used to acquire other works and to enhance a collection — not to raise operating funds.
The association asked its members to cease lending artworks to the academy and collaborating with it on exhibitions....