HC Deb 02 February 1960 vol 616 cc101-2W
Sir S. Summers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement about special Government assistance towards purchases of pictures by the National Gallery.

Sir E. Boyle

Yes. The National Gallery has recently acquired by private negotiation the "Portrait of a Man on Horseback" by Rembrandt. As an equestrian portrait this is unique among Rembrandt's works, and is perhaps one of the most important paintings by this artist remaining in private hands; my right hon. Friend has agreed, subject to the approval of Parliament, to make a special Exchequer grant of £128,000 towards the purchase by the National Gallery of this picture. The Pilgrim Trust and the National Art Collections Fund have offered £5,000 each, and the balance will be found by the Trustees of the Gallery from the resources at their disposal. The price paid—which remains confidential—takes account of the exemption from Estate Duty applicable under the Finance Act, 1930, Section 40.

The trustees have also represented to my right hon. Friend their anxious desire to add to their collection of 19th century French pictures, bearing in mind that only one-half of the Lane Collection will be on exhibition in London at any one time during the next twenty years. Having regard to the exceptional circumstances arising from the recent agreement regarding the Lane pictures, my right hon. Friend feels it to be reasonable to augment somewhat the National Gallery's resources on this account. He accordingly proposes to seek Parliamentary authority to increase the National Gallery's annual purchase grant of £100,000 by a special increment of £25,000 a year for five years, beginning in 1959–60, related to the Gallery's needs in the field of 19th century French painting. He has also reaffirmed his willingness to consider applications which the trustees may on occasion feel it essential to make for special Exchequer assistance towards the purchase of exceptionally important pictures where the price is clearly beyond the scope of their own resources.

A Supplementary Estimate, covering both the special grant for the Rembrandt and the first £25,000 increment, will be laid before the House as soon as possible. In the meantime the money is being advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund.

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