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In England, as every more or less stubborn student knows, the oldest constitutional monarchy. And, by the way, in the promotion of art to the masses, the British rulers greatly lost to everyone else.
In Europe, almost all famous museums were created at the highest initiative of the crowned persons and on the basis of their own collections: the Louvre, Prado, Uffizi Gallery. First for the chosen public, then for everyone. And in England, the decision to create National Gallery in London adopted parliament in April 1824.
It was allocated (although not without pressure from King George IV) £ 57,000 to purchase a collection of paintings from the heirs of banker John Julius Angerstein. Incidentally, he was born in St. Petersburg in 1735 into a German family who settled in Russia. He moved to England in about 1749. He got rich there, made close friends with prominent people (including King George III and Admiral G. Nelson), made friends with many English artists, and put together a magnificent collection of paintings by old masters. The canvases acquired by the state were first stored in his house on Pall Mall, and even then they were available for visitors.
Of course, the building of a private house, even a very wealthy owner, could not be compared with the royal palaces, which housed art galleries in Europe. In addition, several serious collectors immediately declared that they were ready to donate their collections to the new museum, but only if a suitable building was built for the gallery. So, in 1831, the parliament decided to build a building National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. It’s not bad that they had to build on the site of the former king’s stable: architect William Wilkins He used many of the advantages of this building and even kept eight columns of the old stables to decorate them with the new building of the National Gallery. Another famous gallery - Dresden - also housed in the rebuilt stables.
In 1836, the first two-volume catalog of all 114 paintings stored at that time in the Gallery was published, with a detailed description of each. The first director of the museum was an artist, an art connoisseur Charles Eastlake, an outstanding personality in the artistic life of Victorian England. Every year, together with his assistants, he went to the European continent, traveled around ancient palaces, churches and monasteries, visited famous collectors, looking for unsurpassed canvases. Eastlake remained director of the National Gallery for the rest of his life.. 3a 10 years of his leadership, she replenished 139 masterpieces of old masters, such as paintings by Ucccello “The Battle of San Romano” and Giovanni Bellini “Madonna Meadow”.
The museum’s funds also expanded due to the gifts of wealthy patrons. Over time, the room became cramped for an expanded collection. A series of reconstructions and extensions of the building followed: in 1870, 1887, 1911, in the late 1920s - early 1930s. In 1991, with the donations of the owner of the Sainesbury supermarket chain, the renowned collector Simon Sainesbury, and his brothers, a wing called “Sainesbury Wing».
The initial architectural project was severely criticized: Prince Charles called it “a monstrous furuncle on the face of a lover” (princes generally tend to express themselves figuratively). The project was rejected. A prominent architect was invited to create a new version. Robert venturiwho had to consider criticism. His project was considered commonplace.
However, the grand opening ceremony of this wing was held personally by Queen Elizabeth II. On this occasion, the exhibition "Queen's paintings”, Which presented 100 paintings from the royal collection, the largest private collection of paintings in the world: masterpieces by Holbein, Rubens, Vermeer, Van Dyck and many others (this is the contribution of the royal family to the development of art).
Sainesbury’s wing exhibited early works (1260–1510): Piero delo Francesca (Baptism), Botticelli (Venus and Mars), as well as Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Rogier van der Weyden.
In the north wing are paintings of the period 1510-1600. Here are collected canvases of such masters as Parmigianino, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Holbein the Younger, Jerome Bosch, Peter Bruegel the Elder.
In the western wing is a 17th-century painting: works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck, Rubens, Murillo, Velazquez, Turner. In the east wing are paintings of 1700-1920: Canaletto, Watteau, Reynolds, Constable, Gericault, Delacroix, Ingres, Manet, Renoir, Russo and Seurat.
Naturally, the Gallery presents the work of the most captivating English artist Thomas Gainsborough, who masterfully painted landscapes and portraits. National Gallery - This is not only a museum in which masterpieces are exhibited, but also a scientific center where they are studied and restored. It also hosts exhibitions, conferences, concerts, lectures by major art critics, and educational programs.
Currently the National Gallery stores about 2,300 works paintings of different eras and countries. After the construction of the Sainesbury wing The total area of the Gallery was 46 З96 square meters, which equals approximately six football fields. The British claim that its building could accommodate 2,000 London double-decker buses. We hope it never occurs to anyone to prove this empirically.