Letter: Reasonable caution in the restoration of paintings

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Sir: It is sad to read Martin Wyld's response (letter, 14 April) to my article questioning the National Gallery's restoration policy.

It is sad first because he is inaccurate. I asked Mr Wyld very specifically if he could think of any mistakes the gallery had made in its post-war restoration programme. He replied equally specifically that he could think of none. Now he appears to be implying that he does now have some. He should supply a list. It would be of immense value.

A further inaccuracy concerns Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne. Again, I very specifically did not question the blue of the sky but suggested there was something wrong with the tone of the whole picture. Mr Wyld's invocation of Bone's enamel reproduction is therefore irrelevant.

But the real sadness is that once again the National Gallery has responded to criticism by trying to discredit the critic. Once again, in other words, it refuses to answer the substantial issues or to engage in serious debate. The National Gallery still believes it possesses a monopoly of truth and expertise. Its critics are only asking for decent humanity and reasonable caution.

Yours faithfully,

BRYAN APPLEYARD

London, SE3

15 April

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