New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will sell a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington that it has held for 80 years during a Christie’s auction of American art this January.

The 1795 painting depicts Washington toward the end of his presidency, and is one of more than 100 portraits of him that Stuart painted. The Met, for its part, owns one more, also from 1795, that is more famous than this one; that work is among the most high-profile works in the museum’s holdings.

At Christie’s, the Stuart painting is expected to sell for between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, making it one of the top lots of the auction. It is not, however, likely to displace Stuart’s auction record, set in 2018 by the sale of another Washington portrait that had been held by Peggy and David Rockefeller that was bought for $11.5 million.

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The Art Newspaper first reported news of the Stuart painting’s sale on Wednesday.

Museum’s regularly sell works from their holdings in a practice known as deaccessioning. Typically, museums auction pieces that are deemed duplicates of ones they already hold or are no longer considered relevant to their institutional purview.

In the case of the Met, the money brought in through the sale of the Stuart work will support a fund dedicated to future acquisitions, putting it in line with Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) guidelines which stipulated that institutions can deaccession objects, so long as doing so aids in maintaining their collections.

During the pandemic, the AAMD loosened those guidelines, allowing museums to take greater liberties in selling art at auction. But doing so was periodically met with scandal, as was the case in 2020, when the Baltimore Museum of Art attempted to sell works by Andy Warhol, Brice Marden, and others in the name of diversity, only to toss out the plan at the last minute as pushback mounted.

The Met itself has deaccessioned works from its holdings in recent years, most notably a Pablo Picasso sculpture that sold at Christie’s for $45 million in 2022.