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 figures brought an atmosphere of prestige and a sense of history to diplomatic spaces, moving beyond simple ‘decoration’. As the functional presence of art in embassies was recognised by diplomatic staff, increasingly, they sent memos to the Foreign Office, urgently requesting more art.
Their calls were heard and 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.