HC Deb 29 February 2000 vol 345 cc251-3W
Charlotte Atkins

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the plans of Sir Denis Mahon with regard to his collection of paintings. [112612]

Mr. Alan Howarth

The art historian and connoisseur Sir Denis Mahon has recently made it known that he intends to arrange for the great majority of his pre-eminent collection of Baroque pictures painted in Italy to pass after his death to the National Art Collections Fund for permanent allocation to public galleries and museums in Britain. At that time 58 paintings (with a present estimated value of approximately £20 million) will be deposited by the Fund permanently in British institutions with the stipulation, warmly endorsed by the Government, that they may remain only with galleries where free admission to the public is in place. Two further paintings, both by Guercino, The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and Elijah fed by Ravens, are to pass to the National Gallery in London by other means.

This is a magnificent gesture. I thank Sir Denis, on behalf of the Government, for his generosity in taking steps to ensure that most of his wonderful collection will be available for the greatest possible number of people to enjoy in this country after his death. They are at present on indefinite loan to the galleries and museums concerned. The works and their proposed permanent allocation are as follows:

The National Gallery, London: Gioacchino Assereto, The Angel appears to Hagar and Ishmael; Ludovico Carracci The Agony in the Garden; Valerio Castello, The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist; Guiseppe Maria Crespi, Musicians, Peasants with Donkeys; Donato Creti, Artemisia drinking the Ashes of Mausolus; Domenichino, Landscape with a Fortified Town; Luca Giordano, Mythological Scene of Agriculture, Allegory of Divine Wisdom, Allegory of Fortitude, Allegory of Justice, Allegory of Prudence, Allegory of Temperance, Apotheosis of the Medici, The Cave and Eternity, Minerva as Protectress of the Arts and Science, Mythological Scene with the Rape of Proserpine; Guercino, Saint Gregory the Great with Saints Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, The Cumaean Sybil with a Putto, The Angel appears to Hagar and Ishmael; Jan Lingelbach (attr.), Roman Street Scene with Card Players; Johann Liss, The Fall of Phaeton; Guido Reni, The Rape of Europa; Salvator Rosa, Landscape with Travellers asking the Way; Bartolomeo Schedoni, The Holy Family with the Virgin teaching the Child to Read; Matthias Stom, Salome receiving the head of Saint John the Baptist.

The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh: Corrado Giaquinto, Madonna and Child in Glory appearing to Four Saints; Andrea Locatelli, Landscape with a Waterfall and Distant Lake, Rocky Landscape with a Natural Arch and Distant Tower; Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Jepthah returning from Battle is greeted by his Daughter; Salvator Rosa, Desolate Landscape with Two Figures, Landscape with Saint Anthony Abbot and Paul the Hermit; Andrea Sacchi, Saint Anthony of Padua reviving a Dead man; Francesco Solimena, The Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saint Peter Martyr and Two Warrior Saints.

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: Paulus Brill, Mythological Landscape with Nymphs and Satyrs; Michelangelo Cerquozzi, Spring (Flora), Summer (Ceres); Pietro da Cortona, The Oath of Semiramis, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Noli Me Tangere; Domenichino, The Vision of Saint Jerome; Gaspard Dughet, Landscape in the Roman Campagna; Guercino, Head of an Old Man; Pierre Patel, Landscape in the Roman Campagna; Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, Angelica encountering the wounded Medoro; Ippolito Scarsella, The Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist, Bernardo Strozzi; Horatius Cocles Defending the Bridge.

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: Francesco Albani, The Trinity with the Virgin Mary and Musician Angels; Ciro Ferri, The Adoration of the Shepherds; Andrea Sacchi, The Baptism of Christ; Bartolomeo Schedoni, The Coronation of the Virgin; Francesco Solimena (attr.), The Rest on the Flight into Egypt; Pierre Subleyras, The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth, Zacharias and John the Baptist.

City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham: Francesco Albani (studio), Faith, Hope and Charity; Giovanni Battista Gaulli, The Virgin, with the Child piercing the Head of the Serpent; Pieter van Laer (attr.), A Franciscan Saint distributing Food to Peasants; Pier Francesco Mola, Mercury and Argus; Salvator Rosa, Head of a Man with a Turban.

Temple Newsam House, Leeds: Pier Francesco Mola, Landscape with two Carthusian Monks.

The free access stipulation does not apply to this single exceptional case. The picture by Mola originated from the Temple Newsam collection, and it seems fitting that it should return there. Temple Newsam is treated by Leeds City Council as a country house involving admission charges, but its associated institution, the Leeds City Art Gallery, has no plans to charge admission.

In addition Sir Denis has said that he wishes seven pictures to pass to the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna in Italy, and eight to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. These pictures are at present on long-term loan to the galleries in question. They are as follows:

Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Italy: Annibale Carracci, Saint John the Baptist in a Landscape; Domenichino, Landscape with River and Boats; Benedetto Gennari (after Guercino), Portrait of Guercino; Guercino, The Madonna of the Sparrow, A Sibyl holding a Scroll; Guido Reni, Saint Francis consoled by a Musician Angel, A Sibyl.

The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin: Sébastien Bourdon, Abraham's Sacrifice near Beth-el (?); Annibale Carracci, Mary Magdalene in a Landscape; Domenichino, Saint Mary Magdalene; Luca Giordano, Venus, Mars and the Forge of Vulcan; Guercino, Jacob blessing the Sons of Joseph, Saint John the Baptist visited in Prison by Salome; Pier Francesco Mola, Landscape with Saint Bruno in Ecstasy; Guido Reni, Cleopatra. Taking all the considerations into account, including the advice of the Government's advisory body on these matters—the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art—I have granted export licences for these paintings (including those which are of national importance) to supersede the temporary licences already granted. I am also pleased to say that, in recognition of Sir Denis' generosity, two charities related to these galleries have agreed—after his death and the passing of title—to make donations to the National Art Collections Fund in Great Britain of $1,600,000 and £100,000 respectively.

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