History Group Papers: 2008

Read an outline of the talks and papers from the National Gallery History Group in 2008:

Meeting Twenty-Six: 20 February 2008

National Galleries: Artistic Links and Developments – Dr Marie Bourke, The National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery Archive does not hold a copy of this paper.

The foundation of the National Gallery in 1824, as a result of the acquisition of the Angerstein Collection by the government, started its growth that led to the newly-constructed Wilkins building in Trafalgar Square in 1838 and the sharing of it with the Royal Academy.

There followed a similar pattern in Edinburgh in 1850 and Dublin in 1854, with some variations. Belfast followed an independent route with its early museum in 1831 which emerged from a natural history society. The gallery was a separate entity in 1890, both of which merged in 1929 to become the Ulster Museum. The National Museum of Wales received its charter in 1927 and opened in the same year.

What these museums have in common is that none were founded on royal collections or housed in princely palaces, but developed from the initiative of individuals, government and people who wished to have cultural and educational institutions for pleasure and enlightenment. Each of these museums is a subject in its own right (witnessed by the recent publication of ‘institutional histories’). This seminar explored some of these links, and the patterns of development that illustrate what the galleries have in common and what is distinctively ‘owned’.

La Raccolta dimezzata. Storia della dispersione della collezione di Guglielmo Lochis (1789-1859) – Dr Giovanna Brambilla Ranise
A paper or related publication is available for consultation in the National Gallery Archive.

Dr Giovanna Brambilla Ranise presented her book ‘La Raccolta dimezzata. Storia della dispersione della collezione di Guglielmo Lochis (1789-1859)’ (Bergamo, Lubrina Editore, 2007).

The volume examines the dispersal of the art collection of Count Guglielmo Lochis. Lochis’ collection consisted of more than 500 Old Master paintings, which were displayed in a purpose-built Pantheon-style gallery. Some years after his death and against his wishes, the collection was divided in 1866 between the Accademia Carrara of Bergamo and his nephew and heir, who was authorised to sell those paintings in his possession within eight years.

Famous collectors, dealers, connoisseurs and restorers were involved in the dispersal of more than 300 paintings. The volume reconstructs the steps of this dispersal and attempts to trace, as far as possible, every single painting. From London, Oxford and Dublin to Budapest and Winnipeg, the missing paintings of the Lochis Gallery may give just an impression of what was, according to Lady Eastlake’s words, ‘One of the richest temples of cinquecento art’.

Meeting Twenty-Seven: 14 May 2008

That other National Gallery: the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. – John Baskett
A paper or related publication is available for consultation in the National Gallery Archive.

When, shortly before the Second World War, Andrew Mellon was planning to build a National Gallery in Washington and to furnish it with his own collection with a view to attracting others of the highest quality, he had in mind the National Gallery in London. Mellon had visited the Gallery frequently, both while on vacation in the UK and later as the US Ambassador there.

John Baskett talked about how Mellon's aim came to fruition, how the National Gallery of Art has diversified over the seven decades of its existence, and how Andrew Mellon’s son, Paul Mellon, helped bring the fledgling museum to maturity through his stewardship and gifts.

Meeting Twenty-Eight: 4 November 2008

Where do the Lane pictures rightfully belong? – Fintan Cullen, Professor of Art History, University of Nottingham; Barbara Dawson, Director, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane; Christopher Riopelle, Curator of Post-1800 Paintings, National Gallery, London
An audio recording of the conversazione is available for consultation in the National Gallery Archive.

Hugh Lane was a successful dealer in Old Master paintings and founder of the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin in 1908. The foremost Irish collector of Impressionist paintings, he lent many works to the new gallery, promising to donate them if the Dublin Corporation provided permanent accommodation for it. However, Lane's frustration at delays in developing a new building led him to bequeath his 39 continental paintings to the National Gallery in London.

In 1915, Lane added a codicil to his will stating that despite the accommodation problems he wanted to leave his paintings to Dublin after all. The codicil was not witnessed when Lane went down on the Lusitania in May 1915 and thus the pictures came to the National Gallery despite the protests of Dublin. In 1959 an agreement was reached, which is still in place, that the Lane pictures should circulate between London and Dublin, but the debate continues.

To mark the centenary of the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, the National Gallery History Group invited three commentators to engage in a conversazione on the subject of the Lane Bequest and to respond to the question: ‘Where do the Lane pictures rightfully belong?’

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