HC Deb 08 March 1923 vol 161 c726
87. Sir J. BUTCHER

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state on what conditions the trustees of the National Gallery have accepted the bequest of 11 portraits of the Wertheimer family; whether the trustees have undertaken to keep all these 11 portraits permanently on exhibition in the National Gallery; and what precedent exists for exhibiting the works of a living artist in the National Gallery?


The number of portraits is nine, not 11. I am informed that the bequest was not subject to any formal conditions, but that the testator expressed the wish that it might be found possible to exhibit the pictures at the National Gallery. The trustees highly appreciated the generosity of the gift and in all the circumstances considered this course more appropriate than the exhibition of the pictures at the Tate Gallery. They have, however, given no undertaking as to permanent exhibition at Trafalgar Square. While the usual practice is against exhibiting work by living artists, no rule exists which debars the trustees from this course. Indeed, they have done so from time to time for the last 60 years. Recent instances are Harpignies, Matthew Maris and Fantin-Latour among foreign artists, and Watts and Sargent among British artists.


Is there any room in the National Gallery in which nine full-sized portraits of one family by one artist can be exhibited?


Can the right hon. Gentleman manage that these clever, but extremely repulsive, pictures should be placed in a special chamber of horrors, and not between brilliant examples of the art of Turner?