Letter: Mahon's gift
Wednesday 23 June 1999
Sir Denis's collection is particularly strong in paintings of the Italian Baroque period, including such masters as Guercino, Guido Reni and Domenichino. These pictures will undoubtedly plug gaps in the National's collection.
However, Sir Denis felt it necessary to stipulate that the pictures are on indefinite loan only. Upon his death, the paintings will pass to the National Art Collections Fund, which will act as guardian of the collection, and ensure that his wishes are upheld.
His passionately held belief is that access to our national collections should continue to be free of charge. Some time ago, when the introduction of admission charges to public collections was proposed, Sir Denis was one of the most eloquent opponents of this pernicious idea.
It would appear that Sir Denis and the trustees of the National Gallery have come to some accommodation. Nevertheless, Sir Denis is right to be cautious, because it is difficult to anticipate not only the future trends, fashions and policies of our national collections, but also politically expedient government directives. By making an independent organisation with clout, such as NACF, guardian of the collection, he has ensured that his pictures will be accessible to everyone regardless of their income.
By giving his wonderful collection to the nation, Sir Denis has performed a great public service. But if he has helped to keep access to our museums and art galleries free of charge, he will have carried out an even greater service to us all.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget