HC Deb 29 March 1867 vol 186 cc819-38

said, he wished to call attention to the competition for the New National Gallery, and to the Papers on the subject which had been laid upon the table of the House, and to move for a Copy of any further Correspondence between the architects and the First Commissioner of Works. He desired, at the outset, to state that the architects themselves were not aware that he intended to bring the subject before the House. The history of the proceedings was shortly this. In the month of February, 1866, twelve architects were invited to send in designs for the building, and eleven of them accepted the invitation. Instructions were issued to these gentlemen in reference to the competition, but no date was assigned to those instructions in the papers which had been laid before the House. Further instructions were forwarded to them on the 25th and 29th of June last, and the time for sending in the designs was enlarged from the end of October in the same year to the 1st of January in the present year. In the course of the latter month the noble Lord the present First Commissioner of Works (Lord John Manners) appointed a Committee of Judges to advise him with respect to the plans, and those judges made their Report on the 28th of February last. They recommended that none of the designs should be carried into effect. But, at the same time, they expressed their belief that the design of Mr. Edward Barry for a new Gallery, and that of Mr. Murray for the adaptation of the existing Gallery, exhibited the greatest amount of architectural merit. The judges then pointed out what they considered to be the requirements for a new Gallery. Now, it would naturally occur to the mind of anyone to inquire why judges appointed to consider the designs sent in should give their opinion to the First Commissioner of Works as to the requirements for a new National Gallery. Consequently it would be probable that any inquirer would look at the instructions which were issued, and to these he begged the House to turn for a moment. The first portion of the instructions issued to the architects in June last year merely stated what form the designs were to assume, and it was not until one had gone half way through the instructions that one arrived at the requisites for the Gallery itself. These instructions, issued by the right hon. Gentleman the late First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Cowper), were, he thought, of a very unusual character, and deserved special notice. The only condition laid down with respect to the largest of the galleries was, that it should have a width of fifty feet, while there was no allusion whatever to the amount of wall space which would be required for the pictures. It was a most extraordinary omission. Subsequently, further instructions were issued to the architects, but they merely stated that a large number of rooms would be required, such as packing rooms, lumber rooms, and the like; but still, there was not a single word about the wall space or the number of rooms required as galleries. This omission, taken in connection with the difficulties of the site—for the Nelson Column would cut the building to be constructed into two halves—increased tenfold the trouble which the architects must have had in preparing their designs. Here, then, was the explanation of the fact that the judges in their Report had given a list of requirements for the new Gallery. They did so, because the late First Commissioner (Mr. Cowper) had not given them. And it was owing to this fact that the designs were not as satisfactory as they would otherwise have been. The next point to which he wished to direct the attention of the House was the conditions under which the architects were to engage in that competition. It was stated in the instructions that each architect was to be paid £200 for his drawings, which were to become the property of Her Majesty's Commissioner of Works. The First Commissioner did not engage himself to adopt any of the designs that might be sent in; but if one of the designs should be adopted the author of it would be employed to carry it into effect, and would be paid the usual commission of 5 per cent on the outlay. That was the only statement of the conditions of the competition contained in the papers presented to the House. But it appeared that there had been, not only written conditions but spoken conditions addressed to the architects. A distinct reference was, as he understood, made to the latter communications in the letter of the competing architects to the noble Lord the present First Commissioner of Works. Those gentlemen there stated that they— Had entered the competition on the distinct understanding with his Lordship's predecessor that one of the competing architects would be selected for employment, and they most respectfully represented to his Lordship that a contrary course would be a breach of faith with them, and would confer a lasting injury upon every one of the competitors. The right hon. Gentleman the late First Commissioner of Works seemed to share the opinion of the architects; because on the 15th of February he had forwarded a letter to Mr. Austin, the Secretary to the Commissioner of Works, in which he stated that— A rumour had reached him that the judges who had been appointed were not disposed to perform the duty expected of them by deciding which of the competing designs was the best; and he believed such a course would be considered unfair towards the competitors, and would establish a precedent injurious to the success of future competitions for public buildings. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded further to state that— The expectation held out to the architects to induce them to compete had always been that an impartial decision would be made and published between the competing designs, and that the successful competitor would be engaged as the architect of the building, even though the identical design was not adopted. The very nature of the competition naturally led to the same conclusion. It was a limited competition; and that circumstance of itself afforded a primâ facie presumption that the author of the best design was to be selected as the architect of the building. As there were two sets of conditions, one printed and published, and the other spoken, it was utterly impossible for the noble Lord the present First Commissioner of Works to know, when he entered office, what the conditions really were, and therefore the noble Lord and the architects were placed in an awkward position. He had pointed out why the judges had stated in their Report what they considered would be the true requirements of the National Gallery. Now, had the late First Commissioner only proceeded on the plan he himself had adopted in the competition for the new Law Courts, these difficulties would never have occurred. There, both instructions and conditions were precise and accurate; here they were very much the reverse. It was owing to this that the want of success of the architects in the present instance must be attributed, and not to any real difference in their professional capacity. That being the case, the course the noble Lord (Lord John Manners) ought to pursue was plain and simple. He ought to consult the Trustees of the National Gallery and its director, Mr. Boxall—an artist of the highest reputation—as to the requirements. He should thereupon draw up a clear, definite, and accurate code of instructions, and request Mr. Barry, or Mr. Barry and Mr. Murray, to prepare from these instructions fresh plans and designs, which should then be submitted to the judges for their approval. There would thus be still a fair probability of obtaining a suitable building—one which might be a cre- dit to the Government and an ornament to the metropolis. And, at the same time, public faith would be kept with the architect— The public faith which ev'ry one Is bound to observe, yet kept by none, as Hudibras says—the public faith which could not be broken without casting a slur on the House of Commons. He begged to move for any further Correspondence on the subject that could be produced.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "there be laid before this House, a Copy of any further Correspondence between the Architects and the First Commissioner of Works relative to the competition for the New National Gallery,"—(Mr. Goldsmid,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that his grief, though not less profound, was much wider in its scope than that of his hon. Friend who had just sat down. He was grieved for the architects, for the judges, for the trustees of the National Gallery, and, above all, for the public, who were the real sufferers on the occasion. The public had been scandalized and astonished at the awkwardness, weakness, vacillation, and unbusiness-like manner with which this question of the National Gallery had been treated. He gave the fullest credit to the right hon. Gentleman the late Commissioner of Works (Mr. Cowper) for what he did whilst in office as regards the parks; but he was, at the same time, prepared to criticize in no light manner the way in which that right hon. Gentleman had dealt with this unfortunate Gallery. His right hon. Friend was entirely responsible for the patchwork, the incertitude, the useless and mischievous procrastinations which attended the efforts of the late Government to build a gallery to hold the national paintings. The lame, unbusinesslike mode of proceeding had caused the dissatisfaction of the architects, of which his hon. Friend complained with so much justice. The origin and foundation of the whole misfortune dated from the time when the right hon. Gentleman asked Parliament for £16,000 to patch up the existing National Gallery. His right hon. Friend was perfectly inexcusable on that occasion. He must have known perfectly well that even after the old building was thoroughly patched up, it could not contain the half of the pictures which were down at Kensington, and which Parliament had decided should not remain there. He must have known that a Committee of the House of Commons had reported that the drawings of the Old Masters which were in the British Museum should be placed alongside of the pictures of the Great Masters in the National Gallery; and that even after the patching had been finished, a vast number of fine pictures would still have to be hung so high as to be invisible. He must have known that, apart from these things, the rate at which pictures were annually increasing would soon make it a hopeless task to accommodate them in the present building. Forgetful, however, of all such considerations, his right hon. Friend came down to the House and proposed that £16,000 should be spent—or rather thrown into the fire. He blamed his right hon. Friend for this procedure, inasmuch as it was fraught with mischief and opposed by every non-official person who took an interest in these subjects. The mischief done was not merely the loss of the money. When the House of Commons agreed to the expenditure of large sums, and when it saw nothing but miserable and inadequate fruits of that expenditure, it naturally became suspicious, and unwilling for the future to spend the public money upon such undertakings. He must acknowledge as a rule the House was not unwilling to spend money either in the purchase of works of art and science, or for the proper housing of such collections; but it required that the plans submitted to it should be complete and explicit. He came now to the second stage of the subject. The House, after careful and minute deliberation, expressed its deliberate opinion that the National Gallery should be in Trafalgar Square; and ten different architects were requested to prepare plans. But what did his right hon. Friend the late Commissioner do? Did he give these architects any regular instructions as to the accommodation that would be wanted in the new building, or the requirements which were absolutely necessary? Nothing of the kind. He merely gave them some general hints with respect to the proper hanging of the pictures, and other self-evident propositions. Where he was really careful in his instructions was in the matter of dust-bins, closets for brooms, retiring rooms, and lavatories—into these topics he threw himself with great strength and animation. Had the right hon. Gentleman communicated with the Trustees of the National Gallery, they would have informed him of the real requisites for such a building; and he in his turn would have been able to have communicated to the architects specific details of what was wanted. The Trustees would have told him that a hall was required for the Cartoons of Raphael, which they hoped would come there eventually; that rooms for the exhibition of the drawings in the British Museum would be wanted; that small rooms for cabinet pictures, and a gallery for works on loan would be required. Besides this, the national portraits, and an art library would have a claim; and yet not one of these things was mentioned to the architects, who were consequently left entirely in the dark. The consequence might be imagined. When people worked in the dark, their work was necessarily incomplete, and did not do them that credit which under happier auspices their talents must command. Everybody had remarked the superiority of the plans of the new Courts of Justice over those of the new National Gallery; and this merely arose from the architects having proper instructions and details as to the requirements of the building placed before them. Had that been done in the case of the National Gallery, they would not have had wild schemes for taking in the antiquities of the British Museum, and other such nonsense laid before them. This was not the only just complaint which the architects might put forward. They were told by the right hon. Gentleman in words that one of them should be chosen to build the new Gallery, whereas the only document in the Office of Works went precisely to the contrary effect—namely, that there was no engagement to employ either them or their designs. He trusted that the present noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works would not lose an hour in getting the matter satisfactorily settled. The whole matter was now in his own hands; and he should propose a definite scheme which the House should abide by. He would recommend to the noble Lord to commence de novo, and to have a completely new building. It was impossible to do anything with the present structure. Above all, let them lose no more time; but let them look forward to some reasonable and definite period when they would have a National Gallery worthy of the nation. At the present moment it was a discredit to the country. There was no difficulty in the House of Commons; the difficulty lay elsewhere. He was perfectly convinced that if the noble Lord would take the matter resolutely in hand he would succeed, and would deserve the thanks of every one for having at last settled this vexed question.


said, he agreed with his hon. Friend who had just sat down, that a lamentable amount of vacillation and change of purpose had been shown in connection with the question of the National Gallery; but he entirely dissented from the view that this had been occasioned by any act of the Executive Covernment. Any one who remembered the various proceedings in this matter would agree that the vacillation and delay had, on the contrary, arisen from the question having been taken out of the hands of the Government. Committees of the House had made contradictory recommendations, and Members interested in the subject had combined against each successive proposal, and the Executive Government had not been allowed to dispose of the question. His hon. Friend among others had assisted in this result by his Motions with reference to the removal of our works of art to the West End of London. [Mr. GREGORY: I never made a Motion in my life upon the matter.] If his hon. Friend had not himself made Motions he had at least made effective speeches upon the Motions of other people. His hon. Friend had traced the commencement of the present misfortunes to the sum of £16,000 which some seven years ago he (Mr. Cowper) had proposed to expend upon the National Gallery. He must remind his hon. Friend that the expenditure of that sum in the formation of a central gallery, which at the present day remained the only really good portion of the building, had probably saved to the country the bequest of Mr. Turner. According to the terms of that bequest, the Courts of Law held that the pictures were given to the Crown on condition that they should be collected together in one gallery, and if this room had not been added, the exhibition of the Turner pictures could only have been obtained by the removal of other works which ought to be shown to the public. His hon. Friend said, that the time at which that vote was granted was the time when the Government should have come forward with a Motion for the settlement of this question. But if an attempt had been made to solve the question, then it would not have been solved as now. The feeling of the House was not then ripe for arriving at a decision. Government proposed what certainly would have been an excellent arrangement—that a picture gallery should be erected on the site of Burlington House—but this was not agreed to. The proposal the Government then made was free from the grand difficulty that had spoilt the recent designs, that of designing a building of great beauty and dignity, fit to adorn Trafalgar Square, and worthy of the architectural taste and skill of the present generation, and also specially adapted for the exhibition of pictures. It would be difficult to design a building of sufficient elevation to prevent its being crushed by the Nelson monument and the spire of St. Martin's Church, and yet without any rooms over the galleries, which must be lit through the roof. These opposite conditions could not be combined without difficulty. If the architects were to consider only what was suitable for the exhibition of pictures, they would conclude that a low building would be the best. Picture galleries were properly lighted through the roof, and not by side windows, the light through the ceiling being diffused more equally, and falling upon the pictures without producing glitter or reflection. Lighting from the roof was, moreover, advantageous in allowing the whole of the walls to be utilized for hanging the pictures, which could not be done where there were side windows. A low building, then, would be best for the purposes of the pictures; but it would lack that dignity and impressiveness which proceeded from lofty architectural proportions. Another problem requiring solution was so to arrange the interior that it would be well adapted for the reception of the crowds of holyday makers who flocked there at particular periods of the year, and who should be allowed to circulate freely through the building, and also for producing the repose and concentration of mind required for the study of art. Another problem was which was the best form of gallery, and this had not yet been decided. Still another was the best mode of appropriating a very irregular piece of ground. It was necessary to purchase the ground immediately behind the Na- tional Gallery from the parochial authorities. But this space was of a most irregular character, one of the sides being 230 feet in length and another only 170. The ground acquired by purchase was one-and-a-half acres which, taken in conjunction with one acre covered by the present building, would be amply sufficient for any building at present required to be erected, but the collection might so increase that it might be hereafter necessary to enlarge the building. Should such be the case they could acquire one-and-a-half acres more from the barrack-yard at the back, provided they found another and a suitable site for the one taken. The late Government thought the best way of solving the problem was to invite a limited number of architects carefully to consider the best way of overcoming all these difficulties and of obtaining the best building. Some gentlemen thought it would be better to throw the competition open to all the world, and that those competing should not receive remuneration. But from that view he entirely dissented. He thought the best men and the most experienced and skilled would not be likely to give their time and study to this question had they not been provided with the means to cover the expenses of their design. That view was fortified by the fact that out of the twelve architects who accepted the invitation, two had not sent in designs. This probably arose from pressure of business and unwillingness to undertake labour without remuneration. There had been no want of definiteness in the instructions, so far as the necessary conditions were concerned. With regard to the Courts of Justice, the number of courts and the number of rooms that would be required had been previously determined. But in the case of the National Gallery the number of rooms was not settled, and the size of the rooms and the mode of lighting the galleries were left to the discretion of the competing architects, except that the galleries were not to be less than fifty feet in width. They were told that the space on the map given to them was to be covered, and they were to make their arrangements accordingly. He thought that if the architects had been limited to a definite number of rooms, and the size of them, they would have had cause of complaint on the ground of being unnecessarily restricted. The collection of drawings at the British Museum, and the cartoons at Hampton Court, might some day be added to the National Gallery. It was not known whether all the pictures vested in the trustees would be exhibited in the National Gallery. He thought that those pictures of the modern masters which were of acknowledged merit, and were of historical interest as illustrating the progress of art, should be selected and placed apart to represent the British school. But modern pictures of inferior merit ought not to be exhibited with the ancient masters. The competing architects could not have been informed what number of pictures would be exhibited in the Gallery. He could not agree in the opinion which had been expressed that this competition had not been of great use. He thought that materials had been collected which would pave the way to an ultimate decision, and he hoped the time had arrived when this delay and vacillation would come to a close. He felt confident that the solution of the question had been greatly assisted, and not retarded, by the course adopted last year, and he thought it would be competent to the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works to propose a measure which would meet with the general approbation of the House.


said, the architects had come forward as feeling themselves ill-used by the judges and by the Office of Works, because not one of them had been selected by the judges for the performance of the work. As himself one of the Committee of Advice named by the First Commissioner, commonly called the judges, he traversed the assertion. The architects, indeed, contended that some pledge had been given them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertford, at that time First Commissioner of Works, without which they would not have engaged in the competition. But the noble Lord the present First Commissioner of Works had not only found no such pledge among the records of his office, but he had found documentary proof that the contrary was the fact. The judges at the outset determined not to proceed without further instructions given to themselves in writing. They had before them the instructions given to the architects, which they certainly found to be very vague. In the first place, the architects were told that they would have to combine the "requirements of a picture gallery with proper architectural effects," a very proper condition, but one which architects worthy of the name would have forseen for themselves. Then, the paper was filled with a variety of details about closets, the keeper's lodging, until the galleries themselves were summed up in a few meaningless generalities. Moreover, all the competitors were misled with the virtual promise of obtaining the site of the barracks, which as now appeared was highly improbable. Finally, they were told that the First Commissioner "would not engage himself to adopt any of the designs sent in," "but if any of the designs be adopted," the instructions ran, the designer of the selected plan would be employed "to carry it into effect." The House would clearly see that the whole matter turned on an "if" and on an "it." Having considered the instructions framed for the architects, the Committee were, as he said, at a loss what to do, and consulted the First Commissioner of Works, who concluded his reply as follows:— Adverting to the last paragraph of the instructions to architects, the judges will be at liberty, should they think fit, to refrain from recommending any one of the competing designs for adoption by the Government. The Committee proceeded to act upon this, and, although they found in the designs, as they specifically stated in their Report, much merit, it was apparent that those difficulties and the incompleteness of the instructions were too much for the competitors, and that they had, accordingly, broken down. The Committee reporting accordingly, said— While we readily acknowledge the architectural skill shown by the competitors, and the meritorious manner in which many of the difficulties of these requirements have been met, we are bound to say, after full and mature deliberation, that we are not prepared to recommend any one individual design for adoption by your Lordship. The only blame conveyed by that sentence was that the architects had not shown themselves superior to an impossibility; they had not succeeded in making their bricks without straw. The Committee concluded their Report on the designs by naming two gentlemen, one of whom, Mr. Edward Barry, had produced the best design for a new gallery, and the other, Mr. Murray, the best adaptation of the existing gallery. That, he contended, was all that could be expected of the Committee, since they were not an incorporated body of judges, armed with the powers conferred by an Act of Parliament, as were the five gentlemen appointed to report on the designs for the Law Courts. The responsibility of a final decision rested on the shoulders of the First Commissioner of Works, whom the Special Committee had been simply appointed to advise. No one it was clear could blame him if he called in one of those two gentlemen. Upon the possible decision of the Commissioners somehow oozing out, dissatisfaction was expressed by the architects, who met together and communicated with the late Commissioner of Works (Mr. Cowper), thereupon he wrote to Mr. Austin, the Secretary of the Board of Works, saying— A rumour has reached me that the judges appointed are not disposed to perform the duty expected of them by deciding which of the competing designs is the best. That was evidently written under a misapprehension as to what the duty of the Commissioners was. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded in his letter to say— The expectation held out to architects to induce them to compete has always been that an impartial decision would be made and published between the competing designs, and that the successful competitor would be engaged as the architect of the building, even though the identical design was not adopted. The instructions to the architects, however, made no such announcement. On the contrary, the House would observe the peculiar inconsistency which exists between these statements, and the instructions on which they profess to be based. These instructions saved the First Commissioner from the obligation of adopting any of the "designs;" but if he did so, the author was to be employed to carry "it"—namely, that design—not some other one by the same architect—into effect. Now, the right hon. Gentleman repudiated the adoption of the "identical design," and only urged the employment of its author. This was the wiser idea; but it was distinctly not the idea of 1866. The right hon. Gentleman concluded as follows:— But, whatever the First Commissioner may ultimately determine as to the selection of the architect of the National Gallery, I think he ought at once to explain to the judges, if he should not have already done so, that it is their duty to declare the winner of the race even though they may form a low opinion of the running; and that they would inflict a heavy and undeserved professional stigma upon these architects, if they were to declare themselves unable to make an award. Now, he did not pretend to be as horsey as his right hon. Friend, still he could not subscribe to this declaration, inasmuch as the adoption of the course he recommended would have led to passing on the competitors a most undeserved professional stigma. The Committee had dealt more generously with the architects. The right hon. Gentleman wanted the judges to declare that the running had been excessively bad, but that they were yet bound to declare the winner; the judges, however, declared that the running had been altogether creditable, but that, as the Jockey Club, represented by the late Commissioner of Works, had drawn up such an impossible set of conditions, the judges were bound to decide that the race was null and void. He noticed that the architects who memorialized the First Commissioner of Works on the subject had made use of one adjective which was a little too strong. They said in their final letter— We agreed to enter the competition on the distinct understanding with your Lordship's predecessor, the right hon. W. Cowper, that one of the competing architects would be selected for employment; and we most respectfully represent to your Lordship that a contrary course would be a breach of faith with us, and would confer a lasting injury upon every one of the competitors. While not at all demurring to the general tone of this remonstrance from the architects' point of view, he must say that, from all the facts of the case, he was bound to conclude that there was nothing "distinct" about the arrangement at all; everything was left in an hypothetical condition; everything was in haze and confusion; but he hoped that the architects would not be damaged by this slight over-statement. The fact was the judges found entanglement, contradictions, and delusive expectations from the beginning to the end of the case, and they made the best Report in their power, leaving the ultimate decision to the First Commissioner, as their duty required of them. He hoped that the Minister would profit by the experience of the past in regard to that matter; that the instructions issued with reference to it to the fortunate man should be clear and precise; and that the bargain made with the architect, both financially and artistically, should be definite and intelligible. Finally, there must be no tinkering; no patching up of the present building. Not only was it bad as a whole, not only since the ill-starred destruction of the central hall was it totally wanting in internal dignity; but the general arrangement, which created a false ground floor up steps upon the real second story was singularly inconvenient. It must come down, and a new gallery rise, and then they might hope to have a, building in which their pictures would be housed well, and which would also be an ornament to the metropolis, and an honour to the nation.


said, that as one of those who had been called in to act as judges in respect to these designs he wished to make a few remarks. There could, he thought, be no doubt that the competition invited by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper) was intended to be a competition which should end in the selection for employment of one of the architects taking part in it. It was true £200 a piece was paid to the architects, and it was a condition that the drawings of all kinds should be the property of the Government. But it could not be supposed that men of such professional standing entered into that competition merely to obtain a paltry sum of £200, which would hardly pay for the paper and the framing and glazing of their drawings. It certainly would not remunerate them for their office expenses. No doubt it was fully meant that the most successful man should get the prize. Notwithstanding what had unfortunately occurred, there was no reason why that could not be carried out now. The judges reported that the design of Mr. Barry was the best for a new National Gallery, and that of Mr. Murray for the alteration of the existing one. He did not quite agree with the latter view, being in a minority with his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke on that point, and he hoped the Government, to whom the matter was now relegated, would take the matter anew into consideration. The question with respect to the Royal Academy was in course of solution by the happy suggestion of Sir Francis Grant and the adoption of Burlington House, and the result as to that would, he trusted, be satisfactory to the country. But the question in reference to the National Gallery had been pending for many years, and it was now high time that something decisive should be done. He hoped the Government would really take the matter into their serious consideration. It was idle attempting to patch up the old building or trying to turn it into anything that would be creditable to the nation. Any attempt of the kind would neither be wise nor economical. Let them take down the present Gallery, and erect a new one which would be an honour to the country. The proper course for the Government to pursue, he (Mr. Tite) would venture to propose, would be to take into their counsels the Council of the National Gallery, the President of the Royal Academy, and architect who were competent to advise them. But if the discussions of late years were to be continued, none of them would live to see anything whatever done in this matter. The drawings sent in by the competing architects were drawings of eminent beauty and excellent as works of high art; but he could not, under the circumstances, do otherwise than join with those who did not think them fitted for a National Gallery. If what he and his associates had suggested were well carried out, they would have a good gallery, creditable to the nation. There might be difficulties experienced in building a new gallery in consequence of the great irregularity of the site; but the difficulties would disappear in the hands of a competent architect with the guidance he would obtain in the way suggested.


said, that as a Member of the Committee which sat on these designs, he had no complaint to make of the tone of the present discussion. No criticism had been passed on the decision of the Committee, which was supposed on the whole to have decided pretty rationally and well, according to its lights and to the instructions it received. But though he was a Member of the Committee which sat upon those designs he was likewise a Member of the House of Commons, and could not refrain from remarking that his hon. Friend had implied that there would be 4 breach of faith on the part of some one unless one of those professional gentlemen was employed. He looked back at the printed instructions issued to the architects, and it appeared quite clear to him that there was no understanding come to with them that any one of them should be employed. They were asked whether they were prepared to send in designs according to the instructions, and those instructions stated that the First Commissioner of Works did not engage to adopt any of the designs which might be sent in, but that if any one of them was adopted, the author of it would be employed. [Mr. GOLDSMID said, he referred to a letter that was afterwards written.] That letter came a year later, or in 1867 instead of in 1866, and when the architects received the instructions, saying that the First Commissioner of Works would not hold himself bound to adopt any of the designs, they ought to have taken objection then, and not afterwards. There was no ground, therefore, for alleging that there had been a breach of faith towards them on the part of the Government. With regard to the general question, he much regretted the position in which it stood. Where the blame lay it was not for him to say. Sometimes one heard that it was due to the House of Commons, and at other times to the Executive, but he was disposed to think it rested with both. The erection of a new gallery at Burlington House would have been the best solution of the question. The position, however, in which the matter now stood was this:—it had been determined the pictures should remain in Trafalgar Square. They had a gallery which he might almostsay was discreditable to the nation, and every one felt that it ought to be removed and a proper building erected. If he were in his noble Friend's (Lord John Manners) place, he should be inclined to ask those two gentlemen who had been recommended by the Committee as having shown the most talent and produced the best designs, whether they were willing to try their hands again, and send in designs both for the adaptation of the old and the erection of a new building. He did not think that it would be wise to decide on sweeping away that which we had and to incur a larger expenditure, unless we saw the designs of the new building in black and white. He would therefore suggest that the architects should be invited to send in alternative designs, the one relating to the adaptation of that which was already in existence, the other to the erection of a new building. If it were found that anyone of the designs for a new building was such as to justify a larger outlay for that purpose, by all means let it be adopted; but if not, perhaps it would be better to take up some minor scheme.


said, he could not imagine that any public officer could be held to have pledged the country to incur a great expense before he had seen the plans and designs which the architects were about to send in—while they were yet in nubibus. That would virtually be buying "a pig in a poke"—a course which that House would, he felt sure, never approve. There was no doubt that some of the designs which had already been sent in possessed considerable merit; but there was not one of them which he should like to see adopted for a National Gallery. This idea of a National Gallery was that the style of architecture should be chaste and plain, and that the proportions should be good, without any attempt being made at the picturesque. The chief faults of these designs were, that there was not among them a good sound general design for such a building. Some of them contained reproductions of particular parts of cathedrals and castles of different character, and there was observable a remarkable profusion of ornament. A building which was overloaded with ornament was spoiled. Such was the fault of the new Foreign Office. What a building ought to show was perfect proportion of all the parts, and adaptation to the purposes for which it was intended. There was a palace erected at Vicenza, by Palladio, with his usual pure taste, to which another architect had subsequently added a great many ornaments; but it was admitted by every one who was competent to judge of such matters, that the original beauty of the building was, as a consequence, greatly impaired. It should also be borne in mind that extensive ornamentation involved enormous expense, and he trusted no such false principle would be adopted in the new designs for a National Gallery. He might point to the Banqueting House at Whitehall as a building the outlines of which were of great beauty, although it was somewhat overlaid with ornament, and he should suggest that that simplicity of style afforded the best model for imitation.


said, he wished to explain that the only object which he had in view in inviting tenders from the twelve architects in question was to ascertain which of them was possessed of the greatest skill for erecting such a building as was required. In the conversation which had incidentally taken place between him and one of those architects, he had stated it to be his intention to engage the services of whoever might turn out to be the most successful. He did not deem it necessary to make a formal memorandum of that conversation for the office, nor had he been asked by any of the architects to put it into a formal shape.


said, he thought the difficulty which had arisen might be solved if the noble Lord (Lord John Man- ners) would return the whole of their present plans and specifications to the competing architects. He might then give them an opportunity of preparing others in an amended form, from which the plan most satisfactory might be selected. He thought the Government would not be dealing fairly with the other architects if they did not give them all an opportunity of remodelling their plans. This would be the fairest arrangement, and he hoped the noble Lord would take it into his consideration. He was sure the House would not grudge the necessary expense.


said, that although it was true that in the multitude of counsellors there was safety, if he were called upon to come to an immediate decision he should feel rather bewildered with the various suggestions which had been made in the course of the discussion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down recommended that all the competing architects should be invited to re-model their plans, try again, and, as a consequence, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should provide a sum of money to remunerate them for their trouble. Other hon. Gentlemen had been good enough to make other suggestions of quite another character. Therefore, whatever course he might ultimately adopt, it must fail to give satisfaction to some. He wished to express the obligations he felt towards the Gentlemen who had been kind enough to accept the office of judges. They had rendered the public a great service, at no little inconvenience and annoyance to themselves. Not only had they come to a right decision, but their judgment was ratified by public opinion and by the opinion of the House, as elicited during the discussion. The recommendations inserted in their Report were extremely valuable, and they would tend to render the building which might ultimately be erected far more satisfactory than it would have been without them. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member (Mr. Gregory), he could not concur with his hon. Friend in thinking that there was any immediate pressure. The ground on which the gallery was to be erected, was not yet in the possession of the Government. The Bill enabling them to acquire that ground now stood for second reading; but, in all probability, a year and a half more must elapse before the ground itself would be in the possession of the Government; therefore, there was no such immediate hurry in the matter. The discussion which had just taken place showed how very various were still the views of those most competent to express an opinion on the subject. It would be a very rash proceeding on his part if', at the close of such a discussion, he was to jump up and state what he intended to do—that he would recommend the Government to take this or that particular course. One thing which had been suggested had occurred to him before, and he intended to act in accordance with it. It had been proposed that the Trustees of the National Gallery should be consulted more than they had been as to the practical requirements of the building. He intended to put himself in communication with the trustees; and when they should have informed him on those practical requirements, the Government would be in a better position to judge of the whole question. He hoped that, with the assistance already received from the judges' Report, and the further assistance which they would receive from the Trustees of the National Gallery, the Government would be in a position before long to recommend the adoption of some sensible and practical course on the subject. With respect to the very complicated and unsatisfactory position of the competing architects, he thought he should best discharge his duty by saying nothing on that point. The judges who had spoken had expressed very plainly their view of the duties imposed on them; and he did not find that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) very much differed from the opinions which those judges had expressed on that matter. After what had occurred he did not think it necessary to rake up the past, or to re-open healed-up sores. He had every confidence that the course which the Government might take would not lead to heartburnings in the future. He hoped that the building which would be erected after so much consideration would be worthy its purpose and meet with the approval of the country.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.