The exhibition programme allows the National Gallery to draw public attention to the outcomes of new research, and highlight the Gallery's collaborations with external organisations and individuals.
The Gallery has hosted, or collaborated on, a number of exhibitions about its own institutional history, including the Sainsbury Bequest and its first Director, Sir Charles Eastlake. Other exhibitions have focussed on the history of sister institutions, including the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, and colourful individual collectors, such as the Comte de Vaudreuil.
Birth of a Collection: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts and the National Gallery
22 May – 1 September 2013; Room 1
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, a research partner of the Gallery, is celebrating its 80th anniversary with, among other activities, an exhibition that explores the dozen Old Master and 19th-century paintings which Thomas Bodkin acquired during his time as first director (1935–52).
In Pursuit of Art: Charles Eastlake’s Journey from Plymouth to the National Gallery
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery: 15 September – 21 December 2012
This exhibition investigated Eastlake’s artistic development in his birthplace of Plymouth and the role of his family in the promotion of the arts there, as well as Eastlake’s own pioneering activities within the Victorian art world, notably as first Director of the National Gallery.
Find out more about In Pursuit of Art: Charles Eastlake’s Journey from Plymouth to the National Gallery
The Comte de Vaudreuil: Courtier and Collector
7 March – 12 June 2012; Room 15
The Comte de Vaudreuil (1740–1817) was a leading courtier and collector of paintings in Paris during the 1780s. This display featured Dutch and Flemish Old Masters paintings from the the Gallery’s collection that were once owned by Vaudreuil or were in contemporary Parisian collections.
Art for the Nation: Sir Charles Eastlake at the National Gallery
27 July – 30 October 2011; Room 1
This exhibition illuminated the achievements of the Gallery’s first director, Charles Eastlake (1793–1865), once described as ‘the Alpha and Omega’ of the Victorian art world. During his Directorship, Eastlake professionalised the Gallery and established policies for the acquisition and display of paintings, which are still influential.
Find out more about Art for the Nation: Sir Charles Eastlake at the National Gallery
Titian's Triumph of Love
21 July – 20 September 2009; Room 1
This exhibition drew attention to this newly cleaned Renaissance masterpiece, Titian's 'Triumph of Love', It demonstrated how the painting had functioned as a cover to protect and conceal a female portrait, and how Titian’s patron, the collector Gabriel Vendramin, had been its original owner.
Find out more about Titian's Triumph of Love
The Simon Sainsbury Bequest to the National Gallery
22 October 2008 – 1 February 2009; Room 42
The Simon Sainsbury Bequest is one of the most significant in the Gallery’s history. This display celebrated the arrival of three Impressionist masterpieces into the collection: two landscapes by Monets and a still-life by Gauguin. Related works by the artists were displayed alongside for comparison.
Discoveries: New Research into British Collections
21 November 2007 - 10 February 2008; Room B
This exhibition brought together Old Master European paintings from across the country. It demonstrated the range and quality of UK public collections, and also illustrated the work of the National Inventory Research Project, established to shed new light on paintings in regional museums.