Letter: Art and the masses

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Sir: Scene: the Pitti Palace, Florence. One American to another: 'So how long before Raphael were the Pre-Raphaelites?' As I recall this recently overheard exchange, I find myself in sympathy with Bryan Appleyard who writes poignantly of the dispiriting effect of mass tourism ('Vanishing down a Grockle Duct', 30 June). Nevertheless, I feel his analysis lacks honesty.

What he objects to is the presence of these people. We, the educated, are the cultured ones and is it not objectionable that we should have to endure all these ghastly philistines who interrupt our quiet contemplation? Maybe, but it should be remembered that the 'cultured elite' for whom these works were created would not have included either Mr Appleyard or myself. He ought also to reflect that the architecture of grand public buildings does not have a single purpose, but is intended as much to overawe the masses as to please the cultivated.

It is perhaps a consolation that those venerable old buildings, the debasement of which it is tempting to lament, continue to perform so


Yours faithfully,


London, N1

30 June