HC Deb 01 June 1883 vol 279 c1486

asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether there is any truth in the statement in the "Times" of Thursday, that a picture by Raphael, which has just been placed in the Salon Carré of the Louvre at Paris, and is said to be one of the purest and loveliest of his works, was purchased in a London auction room for something over £100; whether it is true that the attention of the Keeper of the National Gallery was directed to the sale of the picture; and, whether any attempt was made to secure it for the National Gallery, and why it was not purchased for that collection?


Sir, this picture, the authenticity of which has been in dispute for a generation, was sold as a Mantegna at Christie's for something like the price named in 1850. It has been ascribed to Francia, Lorenzo Costa, Pinturicchio, Perugino, and Timoteo Delia Vite. I am told that for 25 years it has been in Rome, the owner having vainly offered it at several National Museums in Europe; and I believe it has now been bought by the authorities of the Louvre. When it was sold at Christie's there was no such officer as a Keeper of the National Gallery; and I need scarcely add that the present Director and Keeper have both been appointed to their several posts long since the sale in question. I believe the picture is of great merit, whoever painted it; but it will be obvious that the paragraph in The Times was misleading in treating what is really a matter of past history as an incident of today.