HC Deb 16 November 1931 vol 259 cc496-7
34. Mr. E. T. CAMPBELL

asked the First Commissioner of Works if he will arrange to exhibit the pictures by early Italian artists, now shown in the new western rooms of the National Gallery, either on existing movable screens and easels in those rooms or in other parts of the National Gallery, until funds permit the reconstruction of the new western rooms or a complete change in the present system of lighting which prevents the pictures being seen while hanging on the walls of the new rooms?


asked the First Commissioner of Works whether different use can be made of the new western galleries at the National Gallery until funds permit of the reconstruction of the walls and lighting arrangements, so that picture exhibits can be seen without artificial lighting during the day time, by removing all pictures from the walls and transferring to the new galleries large works of decorative art, such as furniture, sculpture, porcelains, and bronzes obtainable from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum?


The hanging of particular pictures in particular galleries at the National Gallery has always been a matter for the Director of the National Gallery, who is not an officer under the control of my Department. I would, however, point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Campbell), that the majority of early Italian pictures are exhibited in rooms which are among the best lighted in the gallery, and that public criticism has only been received regarding the lighting of the Duveen room on dark days. As regards the proposal of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir J. Ferguson) I fear that the transfer of works of art from the Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum to Trafalgar Square, raises issues which prevent that course being adopted, even if the various authorities concerned with their custody were in agreement on the suggestion.


Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to see that such beautiful pictures as these get the best possible lighting?


I do not know whether I ought to reply to that question as the First Commissioner of Works, but, as a Trustee of the National Gallery, the answer is yes.