HC Deb 15 May 1893 vol 12 cc913-4
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether there is at the pre-sent time any picture by Albert Dürerin the Collection of the National Gallery; whether the attention of the Trustees of the National Gallery was recently called to the fact that a valuable picture by that artist was for sale in London; whether any of the Trustees inspected the picture; and, if so, which of them; whether the picture was eventually purchased by the authorities of the Berlin Museum; and how it was that the opportunity of adding such an important picture to the National Collection was allowed to pass?


The National Gallery contains no picture by Albert Dürer. A small portrait ascribed to that master was lately for sale in London, and, though not then offered to the National Gallery, was inspected by the Earl of Carlisle (one of the Trustees) and by the Director, who is ultimately responsible for all purchases made. This picture has been very long known to the Director. But he has always considered, and still considers, the evidence in favour of its attribution to Albert Dürer insufficient. The fact of an offer for the picture having been made by the representative of the Berlin Museum was afterwards communicated to the Director. But, as he regarded the authorship of the picture as by no means a settled question, he forbore to outbid the offer already made in another quarter.


Is it the custom of the Trustees of the National Gallery themselves to inspect pictures on sale, or does the matter rest entirely in the hands of the Director?


The matter rests entirely in the hands of the Director.