HL Deb 10 July 1868 vol 193 cc978-80

asked, Whether the Statues now in Westminster Hall were permanently placed there? He believed he spoke the opinions of many most competent judges when he said that these modern statues were not in harmony with the ancient character of the Hall. But he objected to the statues on other grounds—he thought they were inferior works of art. He would not wish to say anything offensive to the artists who had executed them; he did not even know the names of any, except one; nor would he say that they were "vulgar productions" as was said in "another place;" but he did not; think they were creditable to the artists; to whom they had been entrusted. These statues had been shifted about from place to place, and it would seem that those who had charge of them were glad to find a place for them anywhere. They were first placed in the Royal Corridor, but were found too large for that passage, and then the question arose what was to be done with them. A council of war was held, and some one suggested that they should be removed to Westminster Hall; but he would ask their Lordships to judge for themselves what were their merits from an artistic point of view in that position. No doubt it would be said that a majority of the House of Commons had approved of the statues being placed where they were, but that was no reason why their Lordships should be prevented from expressing their opinion against their being continued to be kept there. A deci- sion of the House of Commons was not necessarily final, and he did not see why they should accepted as absolute arbiters in matters of art. He begged to ask the noble Lord the Privy Seal, Whether any definite and final arrangement had been come to with regard to these statues and their ultimate destination?


It is not my duty nor my intention to defend in an artistic point of view the statues which have been placed in Westminster Hall. When my noble Friend (Viscount Hardinge) rose to call attention to the subject I was in hopes that he was going to suggest a better site for them, seeing he considers that the present one is unsuitable and undesirable. It might have removed a difficulty had he done so. The noble Viscount has informed your Lord ships of the history of these statues. They have led rather a wandering life. They were in the first instance placed in the Royal Corridor; but they looked so gigantic that they had to be removed. Mr. Barry suggested that they should be placed in Westminster Hall, and that proposition was approved of both by Mr. Cowper and Lord John Manners, and ratified by a majority of 157 Members of the House of Commons. The opinion of those two Gentlemen, who have had great experience in such matters, is one to which deference should be paid; and as that opinion has, as I have said, been backed up by the House of Commons, I cannot hold out any hope that the statues will be removed from their present position. I do not see where else we can put them except into the street—where, at all events, they would not be in keeping with their surroundings, I believe that the only suggestion which has been made by way of improving the; appearance of the statues is that the wall behind them should be made of a darker colour. I hope that when this has been done that they will be placed in chronological order.


hoped that if the statues remained in their present position they would at least be dusted once a week. The effect of the dust which had lodged upon them was to destroy all the finer outlines.


said, that in their present position the statues were very incongruous and out of keeping with the Hall. Waiving altogether the merits or demerits of the statues, no one could differ from this opinion; but he did not think that those who expressed it should be bound to find another site. He did not understand that the House of Commons had finally determined in favour of the present site, and he hoped that during the Recess some attempt would be made to find one where the statues would be more in harmony with what was around them.