HL Deb 12 May 1868 vol 192 cc93-5

asked, What steps the Government propose to take with respect to the Preparation of Designs and Plans for the New National Gallery? It was now more than a year since the Committee of Judges appointed to consider the subject had made their Report. In that Report they stated that, although the plans submitted possessed considerable merit and ability, they could not recommend any one individual design for adoption and execution. At the same time they pointed to the design of Mr. Barry for a new building, and of Mr. Murray for an adaptation of the existing one as possessing the greatest amount of architectural merit. That Report, moreover, was referred by the Government to the Trustees of the National Gallery, and they in their comments upon the same laid down certain principles to be observed in the construction. In another place the First Commissioner of Works stated that, as the land would not be in the possession of the Government for a year, no immediate hurry was required—that time had not elapsed. When it was borne in mind how long the question of a site for the National Gallery had been determined upon, no time ought, in his opinion, to be lost in the preparation of the plans and designs. He wished also to know, what it was proposed to do with regard to the barracks? He did not know, in reference to the question of site, whether the Board of Works and the military authorities were at issue in this matter, but it was, he thought, high time that the Government should make up their minds to retain or remove the barracks, as well as to arrive at a decision about the plans and designs for the Gallery itself.


said, that the matter was very much in the state that the noble Viscount had described. On receiving the Report of the Committee of Judges—of which the noble Viscount was himself the Chairman, if he recollected rightly—the Government communicated with the Trustees of the National Gallery, and from the Trustees, who also furnished a Report, the Government received a succinct set of suggestions, giving a complete account of the space required, and making also some very valuable suggestions. The Government was now waiting in consequence of that Report. His noble Friend the First Commissioner of "Works had not yet decided who the architect of the new building should be. The plans were ready to be submitted to the architect as soon as he was selected; but a difficulty had arisen in this respect, which had not yet been surmounted, in consequence of the Report of the Judges that none of the plans suggested were such as ought to be adopted. As his noble Friend had not given him any notice of the latter part of his Question with regard to the barracks, he could not answer him at that moment, but he would make inquiry and give the information required on another evening.


said, he sincerely regretted that the project for removing the National Gallery to Burlington House had been rejected. The subject was one of very great importance, owing to the value of the national collection and the growing interest and feeling of pride which the people took in it. The present building was most unsatisfactory from its want of sufficient space, and the pictures were seriously injured by the atmosphere on account of the deficiency of proper ventilation. Year by year the Trustees were obliged to put those pictures through the process of cleaning, and that process was by degrees obliterating the delicacy and the tone of their colouring. He regretted that the reply of the noble Earl was so unsatisfactory, inasmuch as it held out very little hope to the great majority of their Lordships of ever seeing the new National Gallery.


said, that when the Royal Academy was removed there would be a large amount of additional space available for the exhibition of the national pictures. It would not, he thought, be judicious to select any plans, however excellent, until they had secured a really competent architect to whom they might confide the construction of the building.

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