London art dealer Simon C. Dickinson Ltd is facing legal action over two Vuillard paintings which are being claimed by the museum of Epinal, in eastern France. The two pictures, a “Nude in the studio” and “Bouquet of flowers”, were bought last autumn by Dickinson from ninety-four-year-old Eve Delacroix in Paris. They were at the dealer’s stand at the Maastricht fair in March, when they were seized by a bailiff acting for the French courts. Mr Dickinson later discovered that there had been problems with a Renoir consigned last year to Christie’s by Madame Delacroix. The Musée départemental d’art ancien et contemporain warned Christie’s that a number of her pictures had been promised to the museum after an exhibition of the collection of Paul and Eve Delacroix in 1969 (Paul Delacroix is now deceased). After the museum’s approach to Christie’s, Madame Delacroix signed an undertaking with the museum and the auction proceeded. The Renoir then sold for $1,212,500 in New York on 5 May 1998. Madame Delacroix’s undertaking has failed to resolve the dispute and Epinal’s museum is now starting legal proceedings in the High Court in London. Last month the London gallery told The Art Newspaper that it has legal rights to the two Vuillards: “On the basis of legal advice, Simon C. Dickinson Ltd is totally satisfied that its purchases were proper and valid and that it is the owner of these paintings.”
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Museum contests dealer’s ownership of Vuillards'