Friday 28 October

Raphael Painting Discovered in Scotland?

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You may have seen the headline recently: ‘Old painting found in Scotland, last valued at £25, now thought to be worth £25 million’.  Prep Headmaster, Andrew Moore, explains the significance of this.

It’s the story of the discovery of a Raphael in a Scottish manor house. It started with the visit of an art historian who noticed the painting high up in a dark corner. It was discoloured by layers of old varnish, “I thought, my goodness, it looks like a Raphael. It was very dirty and slightly yellow. Being an anorak, I go round houses like this with binoculars and torches. If I hadn’t done that, I’d probably have walked past it.” (Mr B. Grosvenor, Smithsonian.com)

The part of the story which amused me was the thought that it could be worth £25million, but maybe not, it could still be worth £25 and how incredible it was that something could be extremely valuable or virtually worthless, no-one really knew for sure. The actual appearance made very little difference, it was the history (or depth) which was important.

It made me think about the value of a really good education. I passionately believe that is something which must not be underestimated. The sort of education which creates life-long learners, people who are kind, generous, adaptable, diligent and thoughtful is essential for every family, community and nation. It is not always possible to judge the value of this aged eleven or even eighteen, but it becomes clearer at twenty-five, forty or seventy. We are all concerned not just with life, but with the quality of life for ourselves and our neighbours throughout the world. There are some massive world issues ahead as the world population continues to grow from 7 billion to nearer 11 billion by the end of the century. Our children will need to engage with all the issues and have the courage, strength and determination to make difficult, and hopefully good, decisions.

What value can you put on education? I would willingly trade a Raphael lying in a dark corner of a Scottish Manor or even in a dark bank vault for an excellent education for my children. Admittedly, we are unlikely to get the windfall of a Raphael in the attic, but what is it worth? It may be more possible than you think.