HC Deb 07 June 1883 vol 279 cc1910-1

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council for Education, Whether purchases of pictures for the South Kensington Museum have been recently made; and, if so, whether it is intended to establish at that institution a second national collection of pictures, in addition to that of the National Gallery; and, if such be the case, by whose recommendation, and on whose judgment, the purchases of pictures for South Kensington have been made?


Sir, purchases of water-colour drawings and pictures are made for South Kensington, in accordance with a practice of many years' standing. It originated in 1857, when, by a Minute of the Board of Trade, ap- proved by the Treasury, the Sheepshanks collection was accepted, "in order to found a Gallery of British Art in connection with the Schools of Art under this Board." The subject is fully treated in the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on the South Kensington Museum in 1860. If my hon. Friend will refer to the Civil Service Estimates, he will find a sum has appeared in the Votes for this purpose under a separate heading for many years past. The drawings and pictures are selected with special reference to the completion of the historical collection of British water-colour artists, and for use as examples for students in the Art Training Schools, and for circulation among the Schools of Art in the country. The purchases have been made on the recommendation of the Director for Art—at one time Mr. Redgrave—then Mr. Poynter—now Mr. Armstrong. The collection of British water-colour drawings at South Kensington is the most complete and interesting historical collection in existence. The National Gallery does not purchase water-colour drawings; and my hon. Friend will see that there can be no rivalry between the National Gallery and South Kensington, when I say that the whole of the purchases last year did not exceed £400.