The National Gallery: A Short History

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The National Gallery: A Short History is a behind the scenes look at the enduring tensions through the centuries between the management and the board that have always been a feature of the National Gallery and, indeed, many of our best loved, publicly funded cultural institutions.

When James Dennistoun, an art historian, was offered the post of Director of the National Gallery, he turned it down on the grounds that no one in their right mind would want to accept a post which involves "endless squabbling from bigwigs and blackguards for some 600 or 800 pounds a year".

From the acquisition in 1826 of Titian's magnificent Bacchus and Ariadne as one of the earliest paintings in the collection, through the purchase in 1890 of Holbein's group portrait of The Ambassadors (one of the first paintings to be funded by private donations) to Stubbs's great Whistlejacket bought in 1997, The National Gallery: A Short History, Charles Saumarez Smith's perceptive book, tells the story of arguably the most important and most beloved public art collection in the world.

Following the fortunes of the Directors who preceded him, up to and including Neil MacGregor, Director from 1987-2002, Charles Saumarez Smith draws on his own experience in The National Gallery: A Short History to give us important insights into the challenges faced by all the Directors as they managed the art collection from its very modest origins through to its position as a world class institution, with some of the most important, beautiful and inspirational Western European paintings, that welcomes more than five million visitors per year.

Product Information

Product Code 1025979
ISBN 9780711230439
author Charles Saumarez Smith
format Hardback
pages 192
published Jul 2009
publisher Frances Lincoln
Dimensions 130 mm X 190 mm

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