Monday, 23 February 2009

Peacock's mischievous motion ignores wider problems of Titian paintings

News release
Immediate release

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has branded a compensation call for £50 million from the Duke of Sutherland to redeem for the Clearances as only half the story.

Mr Gibson has lodged an amendment to a motion in the name of Labour MSP Peter Peacock who seeks a donation of £50 million for the people of Sutherland as the price of the public rescue of key Titian paintings for the National Galleries of Scotland and England.

He said,

"Mr Peacock claims his motion is mischievous, I would say it ignores the truth, is unhistorical and fails to solve the bigger problem of works of art on loan for decades past to our National Galleries in Edinburgh."

"My amendment deplores the money grubbing move by the 7th Duke of Sutherland but points out that the family fortune stemmed from the Bridgewater Collection made from the sweat of canal builders in north-west England. Surely Mr Peacock should be demanding a share of the £50 million for the communities so disrupted and descendents of the navvies who worked and died to make the canals? These preceded the inheritor of the Bridgewater fortune by decades and before that inheritor, the 1st Duke of Sutherland, had married into the ancient Highland family."

"Mr Peacock conveniently evades the whole issue of works of art on loan that could be reclaimed by their owners from our galleries at any moment. That is unsurprising as UK governments in turn tolerated or ignored the consequences before devolution and the Labour LibDem administrations of 1999 and 2003 did the same."

"My amendment takes an adult approach to this complex issue. A commitment to build up the population and economy of Sutherland again is essential and this is part of the SNP recovery strategy for our nation, but I am writing to the culture minister Mike Russell to ask that he evolves suitable proposals to deal with the art loans issue that includes hundreds of items."


Motions lodged:

S3M-03455 Peter Peacock (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour): Titian's Diana and Actaeon— That the Parliament welcomes the continuing availability of Titian's Diana and Actaeon for viewing in Scotland into the future; regrets the manner in which this issue arose and the threat to a Scottish future for this painting brought about by the approach of the Duke of Sutherland; calls on the Duke of Sutherland to remove any similar threat now or into the future to any other painting currently housed in Scotland by donating those paintings to the national galleries of London and Scotland; further urges the Duke of Sutherland to donate the £50 million received for Titian's Diana and Actaeon to the people of Sutherland, the Highlands and Scotland more widely as one small step toward redeeming a tarnished reputation.

S3M-03455.1 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Titian's Diana and Actaeon As an amendment to motion S3M-3455 in the name of Peter Peacock (Titian's Diana and Actaeon), leave out from "calls on" to end and insert "recollects that the Bridgewater Collection, of which Diana and Actaeon is one item, predates the creation of the dukedom of Sutherland in 1830, stemming as it does from the fortune accrued from canal building in England by the uncle of the 1st Duke of Sutherland; notes from the answer to S3W-16020 that "there are hundreds of loans in operation at any one time" of works of art to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS); recalls that John Leighton, the director general of the NGS, was quoted last autumn, when the 7th Duke of Sutherland made his demands public, as saying that "we have known for decades that a moment like this would arrive"; recognises the urgent need for a comprehensive publicly available review of works on loan, and conditions attached thereto, to the NGS, National Museums Scotland and the National Library of Scotland, and encourages the Scottish Government to make suitable proposals to deal with such loans, the consequences of which were tolerated or ignored by previous UK governments and the Labour/Lib Dem devolved administrations of 1999 and 2003.

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