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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – December 2010

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 2 December 2010


Mark Getty, Chairman
Simon Burke (not for items 11 and 12)
Gautam Dalal
Professor David Ekserdjian
Lady Heseltine
Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Patricia Lankester
John Lessore
John Nelson
Lady Normanby
Hannah Rothschild
Caroline Thomson

In attendance:

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Dr Susan Foister (Deputy Director)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)
David Jaffe (Senior Curator) Items 1 to 5
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) Items 1 to 5
Dawson Carr (Curator of Italian and Spanish 1600-1800) Item 1
Luke Syson (Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500) Item 1
Betsy Wieseman (Curator of Dutch Paintings) Item 1
Jill Dunkerton (Restorer) Item 1
Chris Riopelle (Curator of post 1800 Paintings) Item 5
Greg Perry (Director of Operations and Administration) Items 6 (part), 7 and 8
Jane Ellis (Head of Finance) Items 7 (part) and 8
Mary Hersov (National Programmes Manager) Items 9 and 10
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator) Items 9 and 10

The Chairman warmly welcomed John Nelson to his first Board meeting.

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board saw The Adoration of the Kings by Filippino Lippi (NG1124). Attention was drawn to the patchily discoloured varnish and it was recommended that the painting be cleaned in advance of a loan which had been requested for 2011.

The Board approved the treatment proposed. The Board also saw Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback by Rembrandt (NG6300). The Board were told that this painting had last been cleaned in 1960 when selective x–rays had been taken, but no full x-ray of the painting had been taken until 2008, and this had revealed an entirely different composition underneath the visible painting. The painting had therefore been the subject of an article in the Gallery’s most recently published Technical Review. It was now proposed to clean the painting removing the 1960’s varnish which the Director of Conservation confirmed had not aged well. The Board approved the treatment proposed.

The Board also saw for information only before treatment Saint Gregory the Great with Saints Ignatius and Francis Xavier by Guercino (L603) which is on long term loan to the Gallery.

Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI 2000.

Declarations of interest

2. David Ekserdjian declared an interest as the curator of the current exhibition at the Royal Academy of works from the Szépmüsvészeti Museum Budapest and took no part in the discussion of proposed loans to that Museum or to the decisions relating thereto.

Hannah Rothschild declared an interest in a proposed loan out referred to in the Director’s report for information only.

Minutes of 21 October and matters arising

3. The Board approved the minutes of 21 September subject to minor amendments and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting. 

The Chairman reported to the Board that interviews for a new Trustee with commercial experience and a new artist trustee had taken place on 8 November, and recommendations had been made to the Minister. A decision from No 10 was now awaited.

Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

Loans out

4. The Board approved the proposed loans from the Collection, save for proposed loans of A Seaport by Claude (NG5) and Landscape with Psyche outside the Palace of Cupid (‘The Enchanted Castle’) by Claude (NG6471) consideration of which was deferred.

Proposed acquisitions

5. Information has been excluded under s40 and s41 FOI 2000.

Director's report, events and visitor numbers

6. The Board noted the Director’s report. The Director highlighted to the Board the proposal for a celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Sainsbury Wing and said he would revert to the Board with further details of likely costs and numbers of attendees.

He reported to the Board that Peyton and Byrne had secured planning permission for a summer café on the north lawn.

The Director of Operations and Administration joined the meeting for a discussion on a recent demonstration in Trafalgar Square and its impact on the Gallery. It appeared that demonstrators had been shepherded into and contained within the Square. It had been necessary to close the portico entrance to the building at 3pm.

The Board expressed concern about possible risks to the Gallery’s visitors, staff and collection and asked that further discussions be had with the police in relation to the policy on management of future demonstrations in and around the Square.

Follow up to Comprehensive Spending Review 

7.The Board noted the report on follow up to the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

The Head of Finance joined the meeting for a discussion of the issue of access to reserves of the museums and galleries sector. She outlined the current proposals for giving access to a proportion of those reserves, as under discussion with DCMS. It was agreed that a paper on the implications of these proposals for the Gallery would be brought to the Board at their January meeting.

Quarterly management reports to 30 September

8. The Board noted the quarterly management reports. It was explained that the surplus to 30 September partly resulted from self generated income being higher than budgeted, and partly because operating expenditure was £700k below budget at that date.

It was confirmed that sales of floorplans, recently introduced, were expected to generate some £200k during the year, and that such sales had not seemed to impact adversely on donation box income.

National Strategy 

9. The National Programmes Manager presented this report to the Board. The attention of the Board was drawn to the manner in which the proposed National Strategy supported and furthered the recently identified strategic priorities of the Gallery, and to the survey of past and current national activities.

It was confirmed that the biggest challenge at the present time was to develop programmes at a time of financial retrenchment but it was hoped to raise external sponsorship for some of the activities proposed. The Board welcomed and endorsed the proposed strategy and asked that further consideration be given to the best way of publicising the work which was being done.

Exhibition report, 'Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries'

10. The Board noted the Exhibition Report. The Exhibitions’ Curator confirmed that this was the latest in the Gallery’s series of free collection based exhibitions and had proved a very good vehicle for enlivening the debate on Old Master Paintings, and introducing the work of the Gallery’s scientific department to a wider audience.

She drew attention to a statistic in the report, which the Board had not seen in previous reports, being a subsidy per visitor figure. She said that when considering this figure, it should be borne in mind that one of the most important aspects of this exhibition was the production of published material which would provide a long term legacy on the Gallery’s website.

The acquisition by the Gallery of gas-chromatography-mass –spectrometry equipment, the purchase of which was financed by sponsorship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, would also be of long term benefit to the Gallery. There was a discussion by the Board of the criteria against which the success of exhibitions should be judged.

Relationship with Lenders, Collectors and the Art Trade

11. The Board approved the revised policy on Relationships with Lenders, Collectors and the Art Trade.

Any other business

12. There being no other business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

Copies of previous Board minutes can be obtained from the Libraries and Archive department.

Confidential and sensitive information has been excluded from these published minutes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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