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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 4 May 2017

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 4 May 2017


Hannah Rothschild (in the Chair)   
Lance Batchelor (for items 1–7)
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Katrin Henkel
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Rosemary Leith (not for item 1)
Lord King of Lothbury (not for item 1)
David Marks
Lisa Milroy
John Nelson (for items 1–7)
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer


Sir John Kingman

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation, Keeper and Acting Director of Collections   
Chris Michaels - Digital Director
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Caroline Campbell - The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department (items 1- 6)
Dr Bart Cornelis - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (item1)
Dr Francesca Whitlum-Cooper - Associate Curator of Paintings 1600-1800 (item 1)
Paul Ackroyd - Restorer (item 1)
Lynn Harrison - Conservator (item 1)
Deborah Myers - Head of Development (items 6-10)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (items 7 and 8)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (items 9 and 10)

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Board saw The Rape of the Sabine Women by Peter Paul Rubens (NG38) following completion of treatment and approved it as ready to go back on display. This was a work which had last been treated in the 1930s and the Acting Director of Collections said that following the cleaning, the work was fully revealed as a mature masterpiece by Rubens. The Board also saw A Windmill and Houses beside Water: Stormy Sky by Jacob Maris (NG4269) and approved it as ready to go back on display; the Board were told that this work would be hung in a new display in Room 45 to be dedicated to landscape works.

1.2. The Board were also shown Decorative Border with a Kneeling Flagellant and Saints Michael and Stephen by Spinello Aretino (NG1216.2) and Decorative Border with a Seraph and Saint Catherine by Spinello Aretino (NG1216.3) following treatment and approved them as ready to go back on display. The Acting Director of Collections said to the Board that the motivation for the treatment had been to better preserve the fresco fragments and it had been very successful.

1.3. The Board were shown Pardon Day in Brittany by Pierre-Charles Poussin (NG810) which they were reminded they had previously approved for treatment. The Board were told investigative work involving curators and the scientific department had revealed technical complications which would be involved in the proposed cleaning and for this reason it was recommended that it should not proceed. The Board agreed that treatment should be indefinitely deferred. It was noted that this case would be the subject of an article in a future edition of the Gallery’s Technical Bulletin.

1.4. The Board approved the treatment proposed for the following works namely: Tivoli (?) by Gaspard Dughet (NG161), Dido’s Suicide by Liberale da Verona (NG1336) (not treated since the Gallery acquired it in 1891) and The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur and Nathalie Micas (NG621).

2. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Minutes of 23 March and matters arising  

3.1. The Board approved the Minutes of 23 March subject to minor amendments and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

4. Loans out  

4.1. The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department presented the Loans out paper, with one Addendum.

4.2. She drew attention to the fact that NG1147 had previously been approved for loan subject to the carrying out of conservation work. It had not proved possible within the necessary time frame for the work to be carried out at the Gallery, but the borrower had offered to meet the costs of the works being carried out in Italy under supervision by the Gallery. The Board re-approved the loan on this basis and approved all other proposed loans out.

5. Director's report

5.1. The Director presented his written report to the Board.

5.2. He drew attention to the fact that the new Ground Floor Gallery B had now been open for about 6 weeks, and highlighted how successfully it was working (and how popular it was proving with the public), currently as a space in which works by Rembrandt and Rubens were displayed in an opposing hang which enabled new comparisons to be made between them.

5.3. He told the Board that the extensively refurbished Wohl Galleries would start to be rehung from the middle of the month and this would give an opportunity to re- consider the presentation of the Gallery’s 19th-century collection. He highlighted some exciting new long loans in which would be presented as part of that re-hang.

5.4. The Director was delighted to report that the Royal Academy had offered to allow Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo to remain on display at the Gallery for a period following the closure of the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition and the Gallery would take the opportunity to create a temporary re-hang around it.

5.5. The Director reported that Holbein’s A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (Anne Lovell?) (NG6540) had been selected as the painting which would be lent for the Gallery’s next Masterpiece Tour in 2018. National museums had been invited to submit their applications to be part of the tour. Information has been excluded under s22 FOI 2000.  

5.6. The Director reported on visitor numbers to date to the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition and overall visitor numbers.

5.7. The Director reported on the launch event in New York (attended by himself, the Curator of Post 1800 Paintings, the Head of Development and other members of the development team) of the Gallery’s new International Circle.

5.8. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.  

6. Proposed acquisition

6.1. The Board were shown in the Conservation studio at the start of the meeting, The Fortress of Königstein from the North by Bernardo Bellotto. In the Boardroom, the Board noted the acquisition proposal. They were told that the acquisition of the work would transform what the Gallery could do with its collection of 18th-century view paintings. There was tabled to the meeting a copy of the condition report prepared by The Acting Director of Collections who summarised the condition of the work by saying that it read very well in all its tonal and spatial relationships, was structurally sound, had been skilfully restored at some point and would, if acquired, require no treatment.

6.2–6.6. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

7. Forward exhibition programme

7.1. The Head of Exhibitions presented to the Board the proposed exhibition programme for 2018 to 2020 , highlighting the increased scale of the proposed programme, the wide range of exhibitions which were planned, and the increase in proposed partnerships.

7.2. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000. 

7.3. The Board welcomed the exciting and varied programme including the strong contemporary element; in response to a question from the Board, the Head of Exhibitions confirmed that when the Gallery was collaborating with another institution or institutions on any project, the project would be co- curated. One member of the Board proposed that when the programme was presented in future, the proposed accompanying digital programme should be presented at the same time.

8. Exhibition report: Caravaggio

8.1. The Board noted the report on the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition. 

9. Update on progress and plans in Development 

9.1. The Head of Development presented her update on progress and plans in the Development Department.

9.2–9.9. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.  

10. Finance and Development report to 31 March 2017

10.1. The Head of Finance presented the finance report to 31 March which was noted by the Board. It was noted that the year-end out-turn represented a deficit on core activities which had been met principally out of Gallery reserves.

11. Trustees' introduction to the National Gallery annual review

11.1 The Board approved the Trustees' Introduction to the annual review subject to a number of amendments.

12. Briefing on the Modern Slavery Act

12.1. The Board approved adoption by the Gallery of a proposed Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (to be published on the Gallery’s website) and an Anti-Slavery Policy.

13. Update: Matisse, Portrait of Greta Moll

13.1. The Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel updated the Board in relation to the claim in respect of this painting.

14. Committees of the Board

14.1. The Board noted the Minutes of the meeting of the Finance committee of 13 March.

14.2. In the absence of the Chair of the Development Committee, the Chair reported on the success of the recent Development dinner.

14.3. The Chair reported on the meeting of the Nominations Committee earlier in the day and confirmed to the Board that the Committee had considered the skills which might be sought when searching to fill the current board vacancy and said that an update would be provided when the Committee had arrived at a recommendation.

14.4. This item was dealt with in closed session of the Board without staff before the start of the meeting. The Chair reported to the Board on the meeting of the Remuneration committee. The Board approved the payment to the Director of a bonus of an amount recommended by the Remuneration Committee for the year to 31 March 2017. The Board endorsed the Director’s performance targets for the year to 31 March 2018 as recommended by the Remuneration Committee. It was agreed that the Chair would write to the Director to confirm those targets.

14.5. The Chair said that future Board agendas would include a report from the Digital Committee (a new informal sub-committee of the Board); that Committee was being chaired by Rosemary Leith and the latter confirmed that it would meet 3 or 4 times a year.

15. Any other business

15.1. One member of the Board suggested that what was currently called the Gallery’s Research Centre was effectively a research library but this was not clear to those outside the Gallery; there was however a wide range of research activity being conducted across the Gallery in which was essentially a virtual research institute. The Director agreed to consider the nomenclature further.

15.2. The Chair announced that this would be the final Board meeting attended by Lisa Milroy although she would not formally cease to be a Trustee until July. She thanked her warmly on the Board’s behalf for her contribution to the Gallery during her term of office as Tate liaison Trustee.

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