HC Deb 31 May 1861 vol 163 c375

said, he wished to ask the first Commissioner of Works, Whether he has been informed that the frescoes in the Houses of Parliament are showing symptoms of decay; and, if so, whether he will institute proper inquiries to ascertain the cause of such decay?


said, that the frescoes both in the corridor of the House of Commons and the House of Lords were in a perfect condition; but any hon. Member who looked at the frescoes in the upper hall would see that there were upon these frescoes some symptoms of discoloration. In two of these frescoes, especially, there were some places where the colouring had faded, and others where it had come off in flakes. He had, however, no intention to institute any inquiry on the subject, because he thought it was very palpable what the cause of the decay arose from. It could not have arisen from the dampness of the wall, for there was a considerable interval between the plastering upon which the fresco was painted and the wall itself. But as these frescoes were the earliest painted in this country, and painted at a time when there was very little experience in the production of that sort of art, he thought it was evident that the failures that had occurred had arisen from a want of experience on the part of the painters as to the use of their colours, and as to their application of them. The defects, such as they were, were easily remedied, because frescoes had that advantage that it was very easy to get at any defective part, and insert new and fresh pieces.