History Group Papers: 2010

Read an outline of the talks and papers from the National Gallery History Group in 2010:

Meeting Thirty-Two: 9 February 2010

Acquiring German Paintings for the Nation – Susan Foister
The National Gallery Archive does not hold a copy of this paper.

Susan Foister reviewed changing attitudes towards the acquisition of pre-1800 German paintings for the National Gallery. Her talk focused particularly on the period of rapidly shifting tastes in the first half of the 19th century. She re-examined the significance of the Krüger collection of early Westphalian paintings: these 64 15th and 16th-century paintings were acquired by the Gallery in 1854, only for 37 to be sold just three years later.

Meeting Thirty-Three: 13 April 2010

“The Outcry”: Despoilers, Donors, and the National Gallery in London, 1909 – Patricia Rubin (Judy and Michael Steinhardt Director, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)
The National Gallery Archive does not hold a copy of this paper.

In April 1909 the Duke of Norfolk accepted an offer for Holbein’s portrait of Christine of Denmark, which had been on loan to the National Gallery since 1880. There was an immediate and sustained public reaction to the announcement of the sale – an outcry, as recalled in Henry James’s fictionalisation of the episode.

The intended sale raised issues around private interest and public benefit and prompted debate about the definition of Britain’s cultural patrimony. While the potential removal of the portrait from the National Gallery is a famous episode in the Gallery’s history, the nearly simultaneous gift of just under 200 paintings from the collection of George Salting is less familiar This lecture gave an introduction to Salting’s contribution to the “nation’s treasures” held at the National Gallery in the context of the history of the collection at a moment of contestation.

Meeting Thirty-Four: 28 September 2010

Why a National Gallery? – Giles Waterfield (Associate Lecturer, Courtauld Institute of Art)
The National Gallery Archive does not hold a copy of this paper

Though not the earliest national museum in Britain, the National Gallery was the earliest museum dedicated exclusively to showing paintings. Using the evidence of contemporary advocates of a National Gallery, trustees’ minutes, Parliamentary Select Committees and other sources, this paper considered the varying justifications that were put forward, before the foundation of the Gallery and during its early life, in support of the establishment of such an institution and the application of public moneys to its running costs.

Practical as these justifications tended to be, they were surprisingly various, and their articulation was to influence the foundation of similar public art galleries through the nineteenth century and beyond.

Meeting Thirty-Five: 2 November 2010

The Turner Bequest: Understanding its Framing – Ivan Houghton (Researcher, Tate Frames Conservation Section and Visiting Research Fellow, London Metropolitan University)

A paper or related publication is available for consultation in the National Gallery Archive.

Dr Houghton led a discussion of the Turner bequest from the perspective of framing, which included details of the accessioning and location of paintings within the bequest, together with an examination of the principles of cataloguing the bequest by frame styles.

The lecture also provided an analysis of frame styles and dates, the glazing of the Turner bequest pictures and an exploration of the way in which data for management of the frame collection is used.

Read further papers from the National Gallery History Group