Advertisement

220 Artworks Go Missing from UK’s Houses of Parliament

According to authorities, a significant portion of the parliamentary art collection has either been mislaid or stolen

Image: William John MacLeod, Houses of Parliament, Burning of the Debating Chamber from Star Chamber Court, 1941. Courtesy: © the artist’s estate and Parliamentary Art Collection

William John MacLeod, Houses of Parliament, Burning of the Debating Chamber from Star Chamber Court, 1941.  Courtesy: © the artist’s estate and Parliamentary Art Collection

William John MacLeod, Houses of Parliament, Burning of the Debating Chamber from Star Chamber Court, 1941.  Courtesy: © the artist’s estate and Parliamentary Art Collection

The whereabouts of a vast number of paintings, etchings and prints belonging to the official collection of the UK’s Houses of Parliament, is unknown. According to The Times, a Freedom of Information request revealed that of the 9,000 works of art in the parliamentary collection, 224 are recorded as ‘missing’ in the official database.

Some of the missing works from the collection – which started to take form in 1841 and is jointly owned by the House of Commons and the House of Lords – include a 1941 wartime oil painting by William John MacLeod, Burning of the Debating Chamber from Star Chamber Court, an 1801 portrait of William Pitt the Younger by Robert Dighton and a sketch by the 20th-century English landscape artist John Stanton Ward.

The collection, which also includes hundreds of statues, tapestries and mosaics, is said to be worth over GB£10 million. Eighty percent is showcased throughout the Westminster buildings and the other 20 percent is reportedly kept in storage. Whether the missing artworks have been mislaid or stolen is unclear; according to the Freedom of Information response, the unreliable ‘missing’ tag dates back to the 1980s.

Officials are hoping that the multi-billion-pound restoration project that the Palace of Westminster is currently undergoing in order to preserve the building will help them locate the lost works. ‘The restoration and renewal programme is an important opportunity for the Parliamentary art collection to be reviewed in detail so that historic cataloguing errors can be resolved and good documentation practice going forward can be ensured,’ a statement from the Houses of Parliament added.

Advertisement

Most Read

Why does the ‘men’s rights’ guru to the alt-right surround himself with Soviet-era memorabilia, which he doesn’t even...
Alongside a centuries-old collection of Old Masters, Delftware and Chinoiserie, the Devonshires continue to commission...
In a Victorian-era baths in Glasgow, the artist stages her largest performance project to date, featuring a 24-woman...
In further news: UK class gap impacting young people’s engagement with the arts; Uffizi goes digital; British Museum...
Italian politicians want to censor the artist’s poster for a sailing event, which reads ‘We’re all in the same boat’
A newly-published collection of the artist’s journals allows silenced voices to speak
The arrest of the photojournalist for ‘provocative comments’ over Dhaka protests makes clear that personal liberty...
The auction house insists that there is a broad scholarly consensus that the record-breaking artwork be attributed to...
‘We need more advocates across gender lines and emphatic leaders in museums and galleries to create inclusive,...
In further news: artists rally behind detained photographer Shahidul Alam; crisis talks at London museums following...
Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich’s Museum Brandhorst charts the artist’s career from the 1980s to the present, from ‘fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
The first public exhibition of a 15th-century altar-hanging prompts the question: who made it?
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018