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Courtauld Institute of Art

From Academic Kids

The Courtauld Institute of Art is a listed organisation of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art. It was founded in 1932 by the industrialist and art collector Samuel Courtauld and was originally based in 20 Portman Square, London. Since 1989 the Institute has been based in Somerset House.

Famous alumni include the museum directors Nicholas Serota and Neil MacGregor, the art critic Brian Sewell, the film actor Vincent Price and Anthony Blunt the Soviet spy, who held the post of Director of the Institute from 1947 to 1974.

The Courtauld Gallery

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Edouard_Manet._A_Bar_at_the_Folies-Bergère.JPG
Edouard Manet: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)

The art collection at the Institute was begun by its founder, Samuel Courtauld, who presented an extensive collection of mainly French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in 1932, which was enhanced by further gifts in the 1930s and a bequest in 1948. His collection included such masterworks as Edouard Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergère and a version of his Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, Renoir's La Loge, ladscapes by Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, a ballet scene by Edgar Degas and a group of eight major works by Cézanne. Other paintings include Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Cherry Orchard, Gauguin's Nevermore and Te Rerioa, as well as important works by Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani.

Following the death of the eminent art critic Roger Fry in 1934, the Institute received his collection of 20th-century art. Further bequests were added after the Second World War, most notably the collection of Old Master Paintings assembled by Viscount Lee of Fareham. 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 was also an outstanding benefactor to the Courtauld and bequeathed his important collection of Old Master and British drawings in 1952. In 1966 Mark Gambier-Parry bequeathed the diverse collection of art formed by his grandfather which ranged from Early Italian Renaissance painting to majolica, medieval enamel and ivory carvings and other unusual art forms.

In 1974 a group of thirteen watercolours by Turner was presented in memory of Sir Stephen Courtauld, famous for restoring Eltham Palace. In 1978 the Courtauld received the Princes Gate Collection of Old Master paintings and drawings formed by Count Antoine Seilern. It includes paintings by Bruegel, Quentin Matsys, Van Dyck and Tiepolo and rivals the Samuel Courtauld Collection in splendour, being strongest in the works of Rubens. The bequest also included a group of 19th- and 20th-century works by Pissarro, Degas, Renoir and Oskar Kokoschka. More recently the Lilian Browse and Alastair Hunter collections have given the Courtauld more late 19th- and 20th-century paintings, drawings and sculptures.

The Courtauld Gallery is open to the public and housed in The Strand Block of Somerset House, which was the first home for the Royal Academy upon its foundation in 1768. The entrance to 'The Great Room', which housed the annual Summer Exhibition, has the formidable inscription 'Let no stranger to the Muses enter' in Ancient Greek.

Other study resources

The Courtauld has two photographic libraries which started as the private collections of two ennobled benefactors: the Conway library, covering architecture, architectural drawings, sculpture and illuminated manuscripts, named after Lord Martin Conway and the Witt library, covering paintings, drawings and engravings, after Sir Robert Witt. The Book Library is one of the UK's largest archives of art-historical books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues. There is a Slide Library which also covers films, and an IT suite.

External link


Recognized bodies of the University of London

Birkbeck | Goldsmiths | Heythrop | Imperial | Institute of Cancer Research | Institute of Education | King's | London Business School | LSE | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Queen Mary | Royal Academy of Music | Royal Holloway | Royal Veterinary College | St George's | SOAS | School of Pharmacy | UCL

Listed bodies

British Institute in Paris | Courtauld Institute of Art | School of Advanced Study | University Marine Biological Station, Millport

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