Interior of the Courtauld Gallery
|Location||Somerset House, Strand|
|Collection size||530 paintings; 26,000 drawings|
|Public transit access|| Temple|
The Courtauld Gallery (UK: //) is an art museum in Somerset House, on the Strand in central London. It houses the art collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art, a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art.
The Courtauld collection was formed largely through donations and bequests and includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works from medieval to modern times; it is particularly known for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
The gallery closed on 3 September 2018 for at least two years during a major redevelopment called Courtauld Connects.
The Courtauld Institute was founded in 1932 through the philanthropic efforts of the industrialist and art collector Samuel Courtauld, the diplomat and collector Lord Lee of Fareham, and the art historian Sir Robert Witt.
The art collection at the Courtauld was begun by Samuel Courtauld, who in the same year presented an extensive collection of paintings, mainly French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. He made further gifts later in the 1930s and a bequest in 1948.
His collection included Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and a version of the Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, Renoir's La Loge, landscapes by Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, a ballet scene by Edgar Degas, and a group of eight major works by Cézanne. Other paintings include Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Peach Blossoms in the Crau, Gauguin's Nevermore and Te Rerioa, and important works by Seurat, Henri "le Douanier" Rousseau, Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani.
Further bequests were added after the Second World War, most notably the collection of Old Master paintings assembled by Lord Lee, a founder of the Institute. This included Cranach's Adam and Eve and a sketch in oils by Peter Paul Rubens for what is arguably his masterpiece, the Deposition altarpiece in Antwerp Cathedral.
Sir Robert Witt, also a founder of the Courtauld Institute, was an outstanding benefactor and bequeathed his important collection of Old Master and British drawings in 1952. His bequest included 20,000 prints and more than 3000 drawings. His son, Sir John Witt, later gave more English watercolours and drawings to the Gallery.
In 1958 Pamela Diamand, the daughter of Roger Fry (1866–1934), the eminent art critic and founder of the Omega Workshops, donated his collection of 20th-century art including works by Bloomsbury Group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.
In 1966 Mark Gambier-Parry, son of Major Ernest Gambier-Parry, bequeathed the diverse collection of art formed by his grandfather, Thomas Gambier Parry, which ranged from Early Italian Renaissance painting to majolica, medieval enamel and ivory carvings, and other types of art (see section below).
Dr William Wycliffe Spooner (1882–1967) and his wife Mercie added to the Gallery's collection of English watercolours in 1967 with a bequest of works by John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Alexander and John Robert Cozens, Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Girtin, Samuel Palmer, Thomas Rowlandson, Paul Sandby, Francis Towne, J. M. W. Turner, Peter De Wint and others.
In 1974 a group of thirteen watercolours by Turner was presented in memory of Sir Stephen Courtauld, famous for restoring Eltham Palace, and the brother of Samuel Courtauld, one of the founders of the Institute.
In 1978 the Courtauld received the Princes Gate Collection of Old Master paintings and drawings formed by Count Antoine Seilern. The collection rivals the Samuel Courtauld Collection in importance. It includes paintings by Bernardo Daddi, Robert Campin, Bruegel, Quentin Matsys, Van Dyck and Tiepolo, but is strongest in the works of Rubens. The bequest also included a group of 19th- and 20th‑century works by Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Oskar Kokoschka.
More recently the Lillian Browse and Alastair Hunter collections have given the Courtauld more late 19th- and 20th‑century paintings, drawings and sculptures.
A collection of more than 50 British watercolours, including eight by Turner, was left to the Gallery by Dorothy Scharf in 2004.
The gallery closed on 3 September 2018 for at least two years during a major redevelopment costing £50M.
From 1958 to 1989 the Courtauld collection was housed in part of the premises of the Warburg Institute in Woburn Square; it was thus separated from the Courtauld Institute, which was in Home House, Portman Square.
Since 1989 it has been housed, together with the Courtauld Institute, in the North or Strand block of Somerset House, in the rooms designed and purpose-built by Sir William Chambers for the learned societies, namely the Royal Academy (of which Chambers was the first Treasurer), the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries.
The Royal Academy occupied them from their completion in 1780 until it moved to the new National Gallery building in Trafalgar Square in 1837. Inscribed over the entrance to the Great Room, in which the annual Royal Academy summer exhibition was held, is the formidable inscription ΟΥΔΕΙΣ ΑΜΟΥΣΟΣ ΕΙΣΙΤΩ ("Let no stranger to the Muses enter" in Ancient Greek).
Highlights of the collection
- Vincent Van Gogh – 2 paintings;
- Anthony van Dyck – 5 paintings;
- Pieter Bruegel the Elder – 2 paintings, many drawings;
- Peter Paul Rubens – 29 paintings;
- David Teniers the Younger – 10 paintings;
- Paul Cézanne – 12 paintings;
- Edgar Degas – 6 paintings;
- Paul Gauguin – 3 paintings;
- Claude Lorrain – 1 painting;
- Édouard Manet – 4 paintings;
- Claude Monet – 3 paintings;
- Camille Pissarro – 4 paintings;
- Georges-Pierre Seurat – 9 paintings;
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir – 4 paintings;
- Chaim Soutine – 1 painting;
- Lucas Cranach the Elder – 1 painting;
- Fra Angelico – 4 paintings;
- Giovanni Bellini – 1 painting;
- Sandro Botticelli – 1 painting;
- Bernardo Daddi – 2 paintings;
- Lorenzo Lotto – 2 paintings;
- Lorenzo Monaco – 2 paintings;
- Pietro Perugino – 1 painting;
- Pesellino – a diptych
- Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – 12 paintings;
- Tintoretto – 2 paintings;
- Francisco Goya – 1 painting;
Thomas Gambier Parry (1816–1888) was a keen and versatile collector for most of his adult life. Many of his purchases were made on trips to the continent, especially Italy, but he also bought from dealers and auctions in England, and sometimes sold items.
His most important collections were of late medieval and Early Renaissance paintings, small sculpted reliefs, ivories, and maiolica, but he also had a significant early collection of Islamic metalwork, and a variety of other types of objects, for example Hispano-Moresque ware, glass and three small post-Byzantine wooden crosses from Mount Athos elaborately carved with miniature scenes.
The Courtauld Gallery website shows images and descriptions of 324 objects from the 1966 bequest, which included the bulk of the collection.
Gambier Parry began by collecting mostly 16th- and 17th-century works, but his focus gradually moved to 14th- and 15th-century works, still relatively little collected, although Prince Albert was among British collectors of "Italian Primitives", as Trecento paintings were then known. Among his most important paintings were a Coronation of the Virgin by Lorenzo Monaco, one of the larger works in the collection, three predella panels with roundels of Christ and saints by Fra Angelico, and a small but important diptych of the Annunciation by Pesellino. There are two further predella panels by Lorenzo Monaco, and many other small panels by lesser-known masters. Later Renaissance works include ones by Il Garofalo, Sassoferrato, and there is a Baroque Assumption by Francesco Solimena. There are a number of illuminated manuscript pages from the workshop of the Boucicaut Master.
The sculptures include three fine 15th-century marble reliefs of the Virgin and Child, the most significant by Mino da Fiesole. There is a Limoges enamel book cover panel, a number of Renaissance Limoges items, and several small Gothic ivories.
Lucas Cranach, Adam and Eve, 1526
Parmigianino, Virgin and Child, 1525–1527
Edgar Degas, Woman at a Window, 1875–1878
Georges Seurat, Bridge of Courbevoie, 1886–1887
Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Cherub, 1895
Paul Gauguin, Nevermore (O Taiti), 1897
Amedeo Modigliani, Female Nude Sitting, 1916
The Courtauld publishes an online image collection,
artandarchitecture.org.uk, which provides access to more than 40,000 images, including paintings and drawings from The Courtauld Gallery, and over 35,000 photographs of architecture and sculpture from the Conway Library of the Institute. The site was developed with the support of the New Opportunities Fund.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Courtauld Gallery (building).|
- John Murdoch (1998). The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 7.
- Dr Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen. The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2013. Accessed April 2013. Archived here.
- Michael Broughton; William Clarke; Joanna Selborne (2005). The Spooner Collection of British watercolours at the Courtauld Institute Gallery, exhibition catalogue. [London]: Courtauld Institute of Art. ISBN 9781870787963.
- The Collection: Drawings and Prints: the collectors. Courtauld Institute of Art, 2012. Accessed April 2013.
- About Us: A Short History of the Courtauld. The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2011. Accessed April 2013.
- Farr, Dennis; Newman, John (1990). Guide to the Courtauld Institute Galleries at Somerset House. London: Courtauld Institute Galleries. p. 36.
- Search for "Gambier Parry" on A&A – art and architecture. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed June 2013.
- John Pope-Hennessy (March 1967). "Three Marble Reliefs in the Gambier-Parry Collection". The Burlington Magazine, The Gambier-Parry Bequest to The University of London. 109(768): 117-121+123. (subscription required).
- Anthony Blunt (March 1967). "The History of Thomas Gambier Parry's Collection". The Burlington Magazine, The Gambier-Parry Bequest to The University of London. 109(768): 112-116+119+135+141+145-146+150+153+159-160+167+171. (subscription required).
- John Valentine Granville Mallet (March 1967). "Italian Maiolica in the Gambier-Parry Collection". The Burlington Magazine, The Gambier-Parry Bequest to The University of London. 109(768): 144–151. (subscription required).
- Art and architecture. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
- Courtauld Images. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
- Courtauld Prints. Courtauld Gallery of Art. Accessed April 2013.