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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - October 2013

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 3 October 2013


Caroline Thomson (in the Chair)
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Sir Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
John Nelson
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer


Lance Batchelor
Mark Getty
Lady Heseltine
Monisha Shah

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny - Director
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director (items 1-13)
Dr Ashok Roy - Director of Collections (items 1-13)  
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations (items 1-13)
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1-6)
Letizia Treves - Head of Curatorial and Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 (items 1-6)
Caroline Campbell - Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator (items 1-3)
Jill Dunkerton - Restorer (item 1)
Nele Bordt - Conservation Fellow (item 1)
Emma Collings - Acting Head of Development (item 7, part)
Julie Molloy - Director of National Gallery Company (item 7, part)
Karen Atkinson - Interim Head of Finance (items 11 and 12)

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw 'The Dead Christ Supported by Angels', Italian (NG219). The Head of Conservation explained that this was a painting about which the Gallery knew very little; at some points in its history it had been thought to be Spanish rather than Italian and the date of the painting was also very uncertain.  During the course of treatment , information would emerge ( for example in relation to the pigments used ) which , while it might not answer all questions in relation to the painting, was likely to provide much valuable information. It was proposed that work on the painting ( which had last been restored in 1899 ) would start once the newly appointed Curator of 16th Century Italian paintings was in post. The Board approved the treatment proposed for this painting.

The Board saw following completion of treatment 'The Virgin and Child with Two Angels' by Giovanni Francesco da Rimini (NG2118). The Head of Conservation confirmed that the treatment of this painting had been carried out by the Gallery's Conservation Fellow. He reminded the Board of the high level of disfiguration to the painting prior to treatment, and said that now that work was complete, it would sometimes be possible to hang on the main floor of the Gallery. The painting had also been requested on loan. The Board approved the painting as ready to go back on display.

The Board also saw following completion of treatment 'The Music Lesson', possibly by Titian (NG3). The Board were reminded that they had seen this painting several times in the course of conservation; they were also reminded that an article about the painting, written by Jill Dunkerton, the restorer who had worked on the painting, had recently appeared in the 'Burlington' Magazine. A detailed report of some of the physical investigations which had been carried out during the course of conservation would also appear in the next edition of the Gallery’s 'Technical Bulletin'. There was a discussion in relation to the attribution of the painting. The Director explained the reasons why, for now, the painting would bear the attribution of 'Possibly by Titian' but said over time a consensus might emerge that the painting should be re-attributed. The Board warmly congratulated Jill Dunkerton on the conservation of the painting, which they approved as ready to go back on display.

2. Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Loans out

The Board considered the loans out paper and two addenda which were tabled to the meeting. The Board expressed their regret at the inability to lend Canaletto's Eton College to a proposed UK touring exhibition, due to the fact that the Gallery was committed to lending it elsewhere in the UK during the period of the requested loan. The Board approved all proposed loans from the collection.

4. Minutes of 18 July and matters arising

The Board approved the Minutes of 18 July and the Chariman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

Matters arising: The Director reported that the Board would be shown the refurbished and altered Gallery A when works were complete, and there would at that stage be a discussion with the Board concerning those pictures not on display on the main floor of the Gallery.

The Director reported that following the refurbishment of the Gallery's portico shop, takings were at a record level. A discussion of space planning issues would be brought to the November board meeting.

Information has been excluded under s31 and s36 FOI 2000.

5. Director's report, events and visitor numbers

The Board noted the Director's report.

Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

The Director reported to the Board that there had been misleading press coverage in relation to the appearance in Southwark Crown Court of a man accused of causing criminal damage to a Gallery painting; the case had not been dismissed, but had been remitted back to Westminster Magistrates court.

There was a discussion concerning bag searching and body scanning being undertaken on some days at entry to the Gallery; it was noted that this was operating very smoothly.

In relation to public events for adults in the Gallery, the Director highlighted the recent 'looking without talking' events run in the Dutch Galleries during the Vermeer exhibition, and it was noted that these had been so successful that they might be repeated elsewhere in the Gallery. A suggestion was made as to how the results might be captured for the website.

In relation to the summary of exhibition performance in the Director’s report, the Board requested that , pending the production of the full exhibition report to the board, in future the summary information be expanded to show projected as well as actual visitor numbers .


6. Proposed acquisition

Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000

7. Proposal for CRM strategy and membership 

Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000

The Board noted the paper on a proposal for a CRM Strategy and Membership and the Acting Head of Development and the Managing Director of the National Gallery Company made a presentation to the Board in relation to these matters.

The Board strongly supported the proposals and endorsed the proposed way forward. In terms of the timetable for launch, they urged that sufficient time was allowed to ensure that supporting systems were robust.

8. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000

9. Exhibitions annual update

The Board noted the paper summarising the forward exhibition programme and the Director of Public Engagement made a presentation expanding on this.

The Board endorsed the future exhibition programme.

The Chair of the Finance committee raised a query in relation to the financial projections, and whether the Gallery was on track to meet the target set in terms of the annual contribution of the exhibition programme to the Gallery's income. It was agreed that this would be clarified for all board members.

One member of the board raised the question of whether the Gallery might consider putting on an exhibition in relation to the constituent collections which had contributed to the Gallery’s collection and the question was raised of whether the Angerstein collection in particular would make a suitable subject for an exhibition.

10. National strategy, update on delivery

The Board noted the paper (written by the Gallery's National Programmes Manager) which provided an update on delivery in relation to the Gallery's national strategy. The Director of Public Engagement highlighted the success of the National Gallery Curatorial Traineeships, supported by the Art Fund, and also the recent launch of the Gallery’s UK Masterpieces Tours, sponsored by Christies. The Director emphasised the importance for regional museums of the Gallery's support.

The Board congratulated the Gallery's National Programmes Manager on all that had been achieved in this area.

11. Management report to 31 August

The Board noted the management report to 31 August. The interim Head of Finance highlighted key points, including the fact that a full reforecasting exercise was being carried out, which when completed, would be brought to the finance committee at their meeting at the end of October. It was confirmed that the Committee would examine the current contingency position.

12. Grant application to AFNGL

The Board approved the proposed grant application to the AFNGL.

13. AFNGL Board appointments

The Board approved the re-appointment of Mark Getty and Christopher Gibbs as Class A Directors of the American Friends of the National Gallery, London Inc .

14. Committees of the Board

  • The Board noted the report from the Nominations Committee and minutes of the Committee meeting on 18 July.
  • The Chairman of the Development Committee updated the Board in relation to progress in securing  corporate sponsorship in relation to the exhibition programme and in relation to corporate membership.

15. Board effectiveness survey

Discussion of this item was held over to the next meeting.

16. Any other business

Professor Hurlbert said she would produce, for the next meeting of the Board, a short report on the recent lighting seminar attended by some Trustees.

There being no other business, the Chair declared the meeting closed . 

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