Published  05/12/2002

David Drummond

And another, discrete but highly influential arts catalyst has also died, aged 95. David Drummond, Earl of Perth worked assiduously behind the scenes to bring about major windfalls to the world of art and culture. The present National Gallery of Modern Art, in Edinburgh, through Perth's intervention as a Crown Estates Commissioner in the late 1970s, is lodged in the former John Watson's School in Edinburgh, and on moving into this fine neo-classical building has expanded massively. The alternative site was a deplorable Property Services Agency design near St Andrew's Square in Edinburgh. Quick footwork by the financially astute Perth made the alternative building happen. Central Edinburgh avoided a 'carbunkle' designed by civil servants. Behind David Perth's handsome, pale blue eyes lay a steely perfectionism. In the Museum of Scotland competition, he and Lord Bute, descendants of the historical Stuart ascendancy, avoided any tinkering, National Gallery-like, from august personages forth of Scotland, and plumped for a highly distinguished short list. Perth preserved composure of impressive non-involvement, when questioned by press. And yet, those blue eyes faintly twinkled. Perth leaves the scene, like Robertson, only remotely acknowledged. But his reputation was unassailable.

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