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Sir Martin Davies

Having spent the war cataloguing the collection, Sir Martin Davies became Director in the late sixties during a period of major change at the Gallery.

Davies was born in London on 22 March 1908. Educated at Rugby School and King’s College, Cambridge, he joined the staff of the National Gallery in 1932. He progressed from Assistant Keeper at the Gallery to Deputy Keeper, Keeper, and then finally Director in January 1968.

During his directorship, the construction of the North Galleries was begun. Among distinguished acquisitions made during this period were the Tiepolo ceiling of An Allegory with Venus and Time, Rubens’s Portrait of Ludovicus Nonnius, Rogier van der Weyden’s A Man Reading (Saint Ivo?), Titian’s Death of Actaeon and Rousseau’s Surprised!.

Davies's various catalogues of the collection, published from 1945 onwards, received worldwide recognition and created a new standard of scholarship for such publications. He was knighted in 1972 and remained Director until September the following year. He died in London on 7 March 1975.