The Julia and Hans Rausing Room
In January 2019, the National Gallery embarked on a major renovation programme to return Room 32 to its original magnificence for future generations to enjoy. The project has drawn on the expertise of conservators, architects and contractors to reinstate the decorative design of its architect, Edmund M. Barry, and to modernise the outdated ventilation and lighting systems.
Beneath white overpaint on each of the 20 lunettes, alternating designs of winged lions and dolphins with the name of an artist was revealed: these are mostly Italian, though Van Eyck, Holbein, Rubens and Rembrandt are also included. These lunettes have been reconstructed, with the exception of one dedicated to Titian, which was able to be uncovered completely and restored. As well as reinstating the dark red cloth to the walls (in line with the Crace brothers’ original design), the ornate painted frieze has been put back and the plaster decoration tip-gilded with 23.5 carat gold leaf.
The refurbishment, and the redisplay of the collection of 17th-century Italian pictures, was made possible through the generous support of Julia and Hans Rausing, after whom the gallery has been named.