Letter: Don't leave gaps on college walls

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The Independent Online
Sir: As one who achieved a better- than-expected degree at Royal Holloway College, attributable to the inspiration of all the sumptuous Victorian paintings beaming their potent messages of the variety of humankind in the heatwave of June 1950, I have watched the controversy about the present sales of paintings with passionate interest.

I have to say that it was not the Turner, nor the Constable, nor the Gainsborough that inspired, but the prodigious Victorian images - the polar bears, the marketable maidens, the crowded railway station and others of that great dramatic kind - which resonated through those arduous weeks - the paintings which really do belong to the Founder's collection.

If the present sales of the great but not really compatible pictures really do yield enough to restore the glories of the building, with its absurd but wonderful pinnacles and towers and balustrades, and contribute to modern facilities needed by modern students, then it is probably right for them to go; they were never really part of the contemporary collection that Holloway bought for the college - although selected by himself.

I write to plead publicly that their places should be taken by something newly bought; there should never be gaps left on walls. I hope that a small part of the proceeds will be allocated to buy replacements because the store of art should not be reduced, though it may have been altered. Hopefully, future finalists will be beguiled in their hardest hours by walls filled as ever by images of the wonderful variety of nature and humanity.

Yours sincerely,


Saltash, Cornwall