Skip to main content

Two Hundred Years of Women Benefactors at the National Gallery

An Exercise in Mapping Uncharted Territory

In 2020, curators Susanna Avery-Quash and Christine Riding published their research on women benefactors at the National Gallery in the Journal of Art Historiography.

The article sheds fresh light on women who have been important benefactors to the National Gallery from its foundation in 1824 to the present (2020), largely in terms of donating paintings but also through financial aid to support the acquisition of paintings and frames, building work, staff posts, publications, exhibitions, and various public events. Through a mixture of case-studies and basic data analysis, the following set of core questions is addressed: (1) Who were the Gallery’s women donors? (2) Which paintings did they give and in what other ways have they been generous to the Gallery? (3) What patterns within their donating can be discerned? (4) What were their motivations for their gift giving? (5) Why have their donations been easy to lose sight of? (6) What is the Gallery doing now, ahead of its 200th anniversary in 2024, to draw attention to the significant contributions of its women donors past and present? It is hoped that the information compiled here will act as a useful reference point for others in the field when probing similar types of provenance records and will encourage readers to share information to help us fill persisting gaps in our data.

Download the article [PDF, 4 MB]