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Acquisition: Mond Bequest



Acquisition: Mond Bequest



Archive reference number



Upon his death in 1909 Sir Ludwig Mond bequeathed his collection of pictures to the National Gallery subject to his wife's life interest. His wife was also empowered to bequeath twelve pictures upon her death. In 1923 a dispute arose as to which paintings the Trustees were to make their selection from: Sir Alfred Mond claimed his father had given certain pictures both to himself and his brother and that Mrs Mond was entitled to bequeath pictures even if they were among those selected by the Gallery. Legal advice was sought, and Counsel's opinion of 31 Jul 1923 found that Dr Mond's suggested gift of pictures to his sons was a 'testamentary intention' which he omitted to carry out. Mrs Mond's power to give pictures adjudged to be valid, however this power was subject to the over-riding right of the Gallery.

In October 1923 the Treasury Solicitor advised that the testator's wishes were of greater import than those of the beneficiaries. Consequently the Board began negotiations with the family with regard to a settlement. Terms were reached in a meeting of 4 Jun 1924, whereby certain pictures were to remain with Mond's children during their lifetimes [and thereafter revert to the Gallery] and the executors of Dr Mond's will agreed to pay half the cost of a new room to house the Bequest. In a letter to Mond's executors of 28 Jun 1924 Charles Holmes stipulated that the current Board couldn't bind subsequent boards to a condition to house the paintings together in the future however a formal agreement of such conditions between the two parties was never drawn up. The room opened in 1928.

Following the Second World War Kenneth Clark wished to rearrange the collection and Counsel's opinion was sought as to the legality of dispersing the bequest. The opinion of 1 May 1951 advised that the Trustees were legally entitled to do so, however the Attorney General would object if any pictures were removed from public display. It further stated that this dispersal was clearly in conflict with Dr Mond's wishes.

In 1956 Dr Mond's heirs complained about the situation. Negotiations with his descendents were entered into and an agreement was reached with Lord Melchett by letter [15 Feb 1957], whereby the main body of pictures should be permanently on display, the Mond room would retain its title and that a plaque with an inscription should be included in the room along with a list of all the pictures and their current location.

This sub-series contains documents regarding the bequest, dispute and subsequent agreements between the National Gallery and Mond's descendents.

Record type


Paintings referenced in this record

Related material

See S3570 for correspondence re transfer of two Greco-Roman portraits [NG3931 & NG3932] to BM in 1994; S2105 for file on display in Room 30, 1957-1992

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