Royal Gallery: Daniel Maclise Paintings — Question

– in the House of Lords at 2:36 pm on 2nd November 2015.

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Photo of Lord Trefgarne Lord Trefgarne Chair, Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, Chair, Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

My Lords, I am most grateful for that excellent Answer from the noble Lord. After the pictures have been restored, will they be protected for future generations?

Photo of Lord Laming Lord Laming Chair, Freedom of Information Advisory Panel (Lords), Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee for Privileges and Conduct (Lords), Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee, Chair, Refreshment Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Sub-Committee on Leave of Absence, Chairman of Committees, House of Lords, Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Accommodation Steering Group Committee, Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee, Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee for Privileges and Conduct (Lords), Chair, Refreshment Committee (Lords)

Yes, my Lords. We are very grateful for the research project that was undertaken by the students of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and by the Curator’s Office here. A great deal more has to be done to find out exactly what damage has been done to the paintings from environmental factors, such as coal and the like, and from work that has been done since on varnishing the paintings. Once that has been done—we believe that a great deal of the original paint is intact—we will make sure that we preserve the paintings for future generations.

Photo of Lord Berkeley of Knighton Lord Berkeley of Knighton Crossbench

My Lords, there is a very powerful artistic reason for undertaking this conservation. These pictures are not simply triumphalism; they have a kind of visionary humanitarian quality to them because they depict the suffering, and what Wilfred Owen called the pity, of war. However, because the colours have faded so much, that precise aspect is very downgraded, so this is very welcome news.

Photo of Baroness Maddock Baroness Maddock Chair, Works of Art Committee (Lords), Chair, Works of Art Committee (Lords)

My Lords, does the Chairman of Committees agree that it is because we have this unique works of art collection that reflects our heritage that so many people want to come and visit the Houses of Parliament? Does he also agree that over the years it has been the hard work of many Members of this House in raising, and indeed donating, money that has enabled us to carry out conservation work without drawing considerably on the public purse?

Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour

My Lords, can the Chairman of Committees tell us whether we will still be here when this work is completed, or is this building continuing to fall down around us—as I found this morning when I could not get in at the normal entrance? One of our colleagues pointed out to me that Red Benches states that work is being done on re-cant accommodation for the House of Lords? Will the Chairman of Committees give us a brief update on how things are going in respect of re-canting us somewhere else?

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Conservative

My Lords, I do not think that we need worry about the triumphalism. President Valéry Giscard D’Estaing once told me that, at school, he was taught as a little boy that the Battle of Trafalgar was a minor naval engagement in which the British were stupid enough to lose their admiral.

Photo of Lord Dobbs Lord Dobbs Conservative

Does the noble Lord agree that those frescos are a true inspiration—one of the greatest inspirations in this Palace? Can Maclise’s story act as inspiration for the current House of Lords? After all, he was treated appallingly by the Government of the day. He suffered disgraceful financial meanness on the part of that Government. His instructions were ill prepared and badly handled. He was taken for granted, and when he protested, they responded simply with abuse and outright threats. And yet, his work proved to be of immense service to the nation. Does the noble Lord think that we, the current House of Lords, can draw inspiration from that prominent example?

Photo of Lord Laming Lord Laming Chair, Freedom of Information Advisory Panel (Lords), Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee for Privileges and Conduct (Lords), Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee, Chair, Refreshment Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Sub-Committee on Leave of Absence, Chairman of Committees, House of Lords, Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Accommodation Steering Group Committee, Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee, Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Administration and Works Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee for Privileges and Conduct (Lords), Chair, Refreshment Committee (Lords)

Well, this is a new experience for me. It is true that many artists are not valued until they are long dead. Maclise deserves great credit because he had to research the water-glass method that had been developed in Germany but had never been used here. He wanted to make sure that it was possible to convey not just the drama of war but the complexity and the tensions. To do that, he had to paint bit by bit. That was where the water glass came in, because it was able to preserve the paintings. On the rest of the noble Lord’s question, I hope he will excuse me if I pass.

Photo of Lord Bilimoria Lord Bilimoria Crossbench

My Lords, is the Chairman of Committees aware that I hosted a dinner in the Peers’ Dining Room for Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge—my college—which was founded in 1596, and that the oldest painting in Parliament is the one of Queen Elizabeth which is located in that Room and was painted in 1596? Is that painting being preserved well enough?

Photo of Baroness Trumpington Baroness Trumpington Conservative

I wonder whether I might trespass on the Chairman’s knowledge a little further and ask him whether he knows what has happened to Lord Carrington, who was hanging quite happily outside the Bishops’ Bar but has now disappeared. Can the noble Lord tell me where he has gone?