The full catalogue of the National Gallery's Eastlake Library has been published online by Fondazione Memofonte in collaboration with the National Gallery
Sir Charles Eastlake (1793–1865), painter, scholar and arts administrator, was appointed first Director of the National Gallery in 1855. In this role he acquired over 150 pictures for the nation and put the study and management of the collection on a professional footing. He also purchased pictures for himself throughout his life, many of which are now in the National Gallery’s collection.
The Eastlake Library
Eastlake also amassed a pioneering scholarly library of some 2,030 volumes that reflected his broad-ranging interests in the developing field of art history, especially in relation to his concern about attribution and provenance research and in the history of artistic techniques.
After his death, his widow Lady Eastlake wrote to the Trustees of the National Gallery to enquire if they were interested in purchasing the books. Eventually, in 1870 the Gallery acquired the library for £2,008, with Lady Eastlake’s stipulation that the book collection should be known as ‘The Eastlake Library’. She was so pleased that her late husband’s book collection would be preserved that she presented Giovanni Bellini’s The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr to the Gallery in 1870.
An official catalogue compiled by George M. Green was subsequently printed in 1872.
Library catalogue published online
A study of Eastlake’s private art library gives an insight into the evolving interests and concerns of a former Director, whose role in the creation of a culture of public art in Britain was hugely significant. To allow greater access to its contents, in November 2012 the National Gallery collaborated with the Fondazione Memofonte – an institution dedicated to making important historical documents, including private art libraries, available online – to publish Green’s catalogue online.
Read the full Catalogue of the Eastlake Library in the National Gallery