Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

MSP in 'mischievous' plea to duke

Titian's Diana and Actaeon
Titian's Diana and Actaeon was bought for 50m

The Duke of Sutherland has been asked to make a donation to Scotland from the 50m he was paid for a 16th Century painting by Titian.

Peter Peacock MSP admitted his request was "mischievous", but said making a gift could help ease the title's links with the Highland Clearances.

The first duke, George Granville Leveson-Gower, had families moved from his land to make way for sheep.

Mr Peacock has tabled a motion with the Scottish Parliament on the matter.

Campaigners secured the 50m they needed to buy the painting - Diana and Actaeon - earlier this month.

It was offered for sale by its owner, the Duke of Sutherland, last summer.

The National Galleries of Scotland and London's National Gallery were jointly trying to raise the money.

SUTHERLAND FACT FILE
Duke of Sutherland was a title created by William IV in 1833
The 10ft-high bronze "Exiles" statue on the Sutherland coast commemorates the people who were cleared from the area and left to begin new lives overseas
The original plan for a commemoration by a group of campaigners was to obtain permission to knock down a statue of the first duke

The Scottish Government pledged 12.5m, 7.4m has come from public donations and 12.5m has come from National Galleries in London.

The rest of the money has come from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which has given 10m, the Monument Trust has pledged 2m, 4.6m has come from the National Galleries of Scotland and 1m was secured from the Art Fund.

Mr Peacock said, given the levels of public money committed, it would be a gesture from the duke to donate some of the money back to Sutherland or the wider country.

The Highlands and Islands MSP and former Scottish Labour education minister said: "I was in Sutherland recently and had my ear firmly chewed by some people about their concern that the state and others had come together to spend 50m to save a Titian for Scotland."

Mr Peacock said his motion was "mischievous" but hoped it would draw the matter's attention to the duke and spark debate in the parliament.

Living conditions

Meanwhile, SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson has lodged an amendment to Mr Peacock's motion.

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 50m for the communities so disrupted and descendents of the navvies who worked and died to make the canals?"

The first Duke of Sutherland was an MP from 1778-1784 and 1787-1798, before later becoming a British ambassador in Paris.

In 1785 he married Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland.

According to Am Baile, Highland Council's bilingual website, the duke was horrified by the living conditions of the people of inland Sutherland and believed that the land could not sustain them in the long term.

He began to resettle thousands of families along the Sutherland coast to make way for sheep on the newly cleared land.

The Sutherland clearances were the most notorious of all the Highland Clearances in the 19th Century, according to Am Baile.



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