Published  04/05/2007

National Exodus

One thing that Charles Saumurez Smith won’t miss, as he transfers to the Secretaryship of the Royal Academy, is the duplicity of ministers over picture purchase funds. He will relish the highly professional culture of the Royal Academy, with its constant focus on excellence and upon serving the public. His time at the National Gallery was marked by such successes, as raising £22 millions to keep Raphael’s 'Madonna of the Pinks' (c. 1506-1507) out of the clutches of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This fuelled Saumurez Smith’s personal ambitions for the National Gallery, with plans for refurbishing and for recovering the Trafalgar Hotel belonging to the Gallery, around the corner. Little was he to know that such development plans were deemed by the government to be out of the question, and the place was just to tick over foreseeably. Time to go to pastures new.

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