By the 1930s, diplomats and officials became accustomed to working alongside historical artworks from the Collection and it was clear that art in embassies had an impact on how these buildings were experienced by visitors.
Historical, often imposing, portraits of monarchs and distinguished figures brought an atmosphere of prestige and a sense of history to diplomatic spaces. Art had moved beyond being just ‘decoration’. The functional presence of art in embassies became increasingly recognised by diplomatic staff, who began to send memos to the Foreign Office, urgently requesting more art.
In 1935, the Treasury authorised an annual fund of £250 to buy art for British diplomatic posts abroad. An ‘Overseas Picture Committee’ made up of the Directors of the National, Tate and National Portrait Galleries, was set up to guide the acquisition of new works.
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