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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - June 2006

Meeting held on Friday 9 June 2006 

Education presentation

The Board congratulated and thanked the Director of Education for her presentation of the Gallery’s educational programme which had preceded the meeting and said how impressed they had been by the range and quality of the educational and outreach activities they had been shown.  Asked about the main problems facing her department, she listed lack of space (rooms for workshops, events etc), the constant need to find sponsorship for projects of several years’ duration, and the risk of over-crowding the picture galleries, in that order. Trustees suggested that a temporary solution to the space problem might be found and that efforts should be made, if need be, to seek out private funding to finance it.

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved the minutes of the last meeting held on 5 May 2006 which were duly signed by the Chairman.

Matters arising:

Minute 3, division between the NG and Tate collections: the Chairman reported that the next step was a meeting of the Directors and relevant curators of the two institutions, arranged to take place shortly, at which the discussions would continue. Any proposals arising from this meeting would be brought back to both Boards for consideration.

Director’s report

2. Exhibitions, 'Rebels and Martyrs: The Image of the Artist in the Nineteenth Century': the Director said that this exhibition was now being curated by Lois Oliver who had taken it over following the departure of its first curator, Alexander Sturgis, to become Director of the Holburne Museum in Bath. The exhibition was attracting considerable interest from the Press but the Gallery remained cautious about the possible attendance figure.
'Bellini and the East': the decision not to have a separate sales desk had probably had an impact on the sales of the catalogue of this exhibition.

Visitor figures: the Director reported the figure for May as about 344,000, and commented that visitor numbers continued to improve, each month approaching closer to the monthly averages of the past ten years.    

Potential acquisitions

3. The Board authorised the Chairman to sign a deed disclaiming the gift of 'An Extensive Landscape' by Claesz Hals, a picture on panel, making part of a legacy to the Trustees of the National Gallery.  It was a matter of great regret that the Trustees found themselves obliged to refuse the gift as the picture concerned was not of the required quality to enter the national collection. They expressed their gratitude for the generous intentions of the testator.  

Giovanni Paolo Panini, 'The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio'

The Director reported that the Art Fund had most generously agreed to make a grant of £150,000 towards the purchase of this picture. 
The Board thanked the Art Fund warmly for their contribution, and authorised the purchase of the picture for £1.852m, the latest price set by the vendors.

Loan requests and schedule of loans out

4. (a) Loan requests

Professor Ekserdjian declared a possible conflict of interest in relation to the request for the loan of NG 2632 to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and took no part in the discussion of or the decision on that item.
The Board agreed to the loan requests, including the long-term loans, as recommended in the Senior Curator’s paper with the following amendments:

  • NG26 to be lent to the Museo Civico Polironiano in San Benedetto on condition that the Chrysler Museum agreed to the loan of their altarpiece to the same exhibition;
  • NG1162 to be lent only to Tate Britain and the Musée du Louvre, not to the third venue in view of the importance of the picture to the Gallery’s collection; 
  • NG299 to be lent to the V & A for 3 rather than 5 months for the same reason.

The Board agreed to the loans recommended with qualifications, endorsed the Gallery’s decisions to decline to lend, and noted that the proposed dates, 6 July to 1 October 2006, of the exhibition, Antonello da Messina’s 'Saint Jerome in his Study' at the Galleria Regionale, Messina had been confirmed (Gallery loan: NG1418).

 (b) Schedule of loans out
The Board noted the schedule and stressed the importance of its being completely accurate and up-to-date.  They expressed their concern at the increase in the numbers of loans.  It was agreed that a paper would be brought to the Board in the autumn, probably in September or October, on loans policy, practice and costs.  It would be helpful if the paper could report the numbers of loans both in and out of the Gallery in recent years.

Grant application from the NGC

5. The Board approved a grant to the National Gallery Company of £4751 towards the publication costs of the 'Reunions' leaflet, and expressed their gratitude to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, whose donation to the National Gallery had made it possible. 

Grant applications to AFNGL

6. The Board authorised the Gallery to apply to the American Friends of the National Gallery, London for two grants towards costs of the 'National Gallery Technical Bulletin':

  • for $7000 to fund the extra pages and illustrations covering new research to be reported in Volume 27; and
  • for $25,000 towards the publication costs of Volume 28.

Minutes of Committees of the Board

7. (a) The Board noted the minutes of the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 23 March 2006. 
The Director explained the reference to recommendation 9 which related to an unwritten rule by which it was traditionally accepted that, when swift action, such as putting in a bid at auction, was essential to secure an acquisition, a small group consisting of the Chairman, Director and one other Trustee could authorise it, pending the first opportunity to consult the full Board.  The Board agreed that this procedure should be reviewed in the light of advances in communications such as email, new recommendations put to the Board, and formally approved, adopted and recorded.  The Director of Resources agreed to prepare new proposals.

(b) The Board noted the minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee held on 23 March 2006.

(c) The Board noted the minutes of the meeting of the Masterplan Committee held on 19 May 2006.     

Pictures for treatment 

8. The Board agreed that 'The Adoration of the Kings' by Girolamo da Treviso (NG 218) was ready to go back on show after treatment.
The Board approved the treatment proposed for the 'Portrait of Jean de la Chambre at the Age of 33' by Frans Hals (NG 6411) and the 'Portrait of a Young Woman' by Gerrit Dou (NG 968). 

Picture movements

9. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Any other business

10. The Chairman expressed his gratitude to Lord Kerr in his absence for agreeing to continue to chair the Development Committee. 

There being no further business, the Chairman brought the meeting to a close.

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