1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Art Galleries
ART GALLERIES. An art gallery (by which, as distinguished from more general Museums of Art, q.v., is here meant one specially for pictures) epitomizes so many phases of human thought and imagination that it connotes much more than a mere collection of paintings. In its technical and aesthetic aspect the gallery shows the treatment of colour, form and composition. In its historical aspect we find the true portraits of great men of the past; we can observe their habits of life, their manners, their dress, the architecture of their times, and the religious worship of the period in which they lived. Regarded collectively, the art of a country epitomizes the whole development of the people that produced it. Most important of all is the emotional aspect of painting, which must enter less or more into every picture worthy of notice. To take examples from the British National Gallery: pathos in its most intense degree will be found in Francia’s “Pietà”; dignity in Velasquez’ portrait of Admiral Pareja; homeliness in Van Eyck’s portrait of Jan Arnolfini and his wife; the interpretation of the varying moods of nature in the work of Turner or Hobbema; nothing can be more devotional than the canvases of Bellini or his Umbrian contemporaries. So also the ruling sentiments of mankind—mysticism, drama and imagination—are the keynotes of other great conceptions of the artist. All this may be at the command of those who visit the art gallery; but without patience, care and study the higher meaning will be lost to the spectator. The picture which “tells its own story” is often the least didactic, for it has no inner or deeper lesson to reveal; it gives no stimulus or training to the eye, quick as that organ may be—segnius irritant animos—to translate sight into thought. In brief, the painter asks that his ἦθος may be shared as much as possible by the man who looks at the painting—the art above all others in which it is most needful to share the master’s spirit if his work is to be fully appreciated. So, too, the art gallery, recalling the gentler associations of the past amidst surroundings of harmonious beauty and its attendant sense of comfort, is essentially a place of rest for the mind and eye. In the more famous galleries where the wealth of paintings allows a grouping of pictures according to their respective schools, one may choose the country, the epoch, the style or even the emotion best suited to one’s taste. According to this theory, though imperfectly realized owing to the paucity of examples, the philosophic influence of art galleries is becoming more widely extended; and in its further development will be found an ever-growing source of interest, instruction and scholarship to the community. The most suitable method of describing art galleries is to classify them by their types and contents rather than by the various countries to which they belong. Thus the great representative galleries of the world which possess works of every school are grouped together, followed by state galleries which are not remarkable for more than one school of national art. Municipal galleries are divided into those which have general collections, and those which are notable for special collections. Churches which have good paintings, together with those which are now secularized, are treated separately; while the collections in the Vatican and private houses are described together. The remaining galleries, such as the Salon or the Royal Academy, are periodical or commercial in character, and are important in the development of modern art.
|Fig. 1.—Plan of the National Gallery, London.|
|North Vestibule, Early Italian Schools:||VIII. Paduan and Early Venetian Schools.||XVII. French School.|
|IX. Later Venetian School.||XVIII. British School.|
|I. Tuscan School (15th and 16th centuries).||X. Flemish School.||XIX. Old British School.|
|II. Sienese School, &c.||XI. Early Dutch and Flemish Schools.||XX. British School.|
|III. Tuscan School.||XII. Dutch and Flemish Schools.||XXI. British School.|
|IV. Lombard School.||XIII. Flemish School.||XXII. Turner Collection.|
|V. Ferrarese and Bolognese Schools.||XIV. Spanish School.||Octagonal Hall: Miscellaneous.|
|VI. Umbrian School, &c.||XV. German Schools.||East Vestibule: British School.|
|VII. Venetian and Brescian Schools.||XVI. French School.||West Vestibule: Italian School.|
The collections most worthy of attention are the state galleries representative of international schools. Among these the British National Gallery holds a high place. The collection was founded in 1824 by the acquisition of the Angerstein State
international schools. pictures. Its accessions are mainly governed by the parliamentary grant of £5000 to £10,000 a year, a sum which has occasionally been enlarged to permit special purchases. Thus, in 1871, the Peel collection of seventy-seven pictures was bought for £75,000, and in 1885 the Ansidei Madonna (Raphael) and Van Dyck’s portrait of Charles I. were bought, the one for £70,000 and the other for £17,500. In 1890 the government gave £25,000 to meet a gift of £30,000 made by three gentlemen to acquire three portraits by Moroni, Velazquez and Holbein. The most important private gifts were the Vernon gift in 1847, the Turner bequest in 1856 and the Wynne-Ellis legacy in 1876. Since 1905 the Art Collections Fund, a society of private subscribers, has also been responsible for important additions to the gallery, notably the Venus of Velazquez (1907). The gallery contains very few poor works and all schools are well represented, with the sole exception of the French school. This, however, can be amply studied at Hertford House (Wallace Collection), which, besides Dutch, Spanish and British pictures of the highest value, contains twenty examples of Greuze, fifteen by Pater, nineteen by Boucher, eleven by Watteau and fifteen by Meissonier. The national gallery of pictures at Berlin (Kaiser Friedrich Museum), like the British National Gallery, is remarkable for its variety of schools and painters, and for the select type of pictures shown. During the last twenty-five years of the 19th century, the development of this collection was even more striking than that of the English gallery. Italian and Dutch examples are specially numerous, though every school but the British (here as elsewhere) is really well seen. The purchase grant is considerable, and is well applied. Two other German capitals have collections of international importance—Dresden and Munich. The former is famous for the Sistine Madonna by Raphael, a work of such supreme excellence that there is a tendency to overlook other Italian pictures of celebrity by Titian, Giorgione and Correggio. Munich (Old Pinakothek) has examples of all the best masters, the South German school being particularly noticeable. The arrangement is good, and the methods of exhibition make this one of the most pleasant galleries on the continent. Vienna has the Imperial Gallery, a collection which in point of number cannot be considered large, as there are not more than 1700 pictures. This, however, is in itself a safeguard, like the wise provision in a statute of 1856 for enabling the English authorities to dispose of pictures “unfit for the collection, or not required.” It avoids the undue multiplication of canvases, and the overcrowding so noticeable in many Italian galleries where first-rate pictures hang too high to be examined. Thus the Viennese gallery, besides the intrinsic value of its pictures (Albert Dürer’s chief work is there), is admirably adapted for study. The best gallery in Russia (St Petersburg, Hermitage) was made entirely by royal efforts, having been founded by Peter the Great, and much enlarged by the empress Catherine. It contains the collections of Crozat, Brühl and Walpole. There are about 1800 works, the schools of Flanders and Italy being of signal merit; and there are at least thirty-five genuine examples by Rembrandt. The French collection (Louvre Palace, Paris) is one of the most important of all. In 1880 it was undoubtedly the first gallery in Europe, but its supremacy has since been menaced by other establishments where acquisitions are made more frequently and with greater care, and where the system of classification is such that the value of the pictures is enhanced rather than diminished by their display. In 1900 it was partly rearranged with great effect. The feature of the Louvre is the Salon Carré, a room in which the supposed finest canvases in the collection are kept together, pictures of world-wide fame, representing all schools. It is now generally accepted that this system of selection not only lowers the standard of individual schools elsewhere by withdrawing their best pictures, but does not add to the aesthetic or educational value of the masterpieces themselves. In Florence the Tribuna room of the Uffizi gallery is a similar case in point. Probably the two most widely known pictures in the Louvre are Watteau’s second “Embarquement pour Cythère,” and the “Monna Lisa,” a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, but each school has many unique examples. The original drawings should be noted, being of equal importance to the collection preserved at the British Museum. The last collection to be mentioned under this heading is that known as the Royal Galleries in Florence, housed in the Pitti and Uffizi palaces. In some ways this collection does not represent general painting sufficiently to justify its inclusion with the galleries of Berlin, Paris and London. On the other hand, the great number of Italian pictures of vital importance to the history of international art makes this one of the finest existing collections. The two great palaces, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, are joined together and contain the Medici pictures. They form the largest gallery in the world, and though many of the rooms are small and badly lighted, and although many paintings have suffered from thoughtless restoration, they have a charm and attraction which certainly make them the most popular galleries in Europe. The Pitti has ten Raphaels and excellent examples of Andrea del Sarto, Giorgione and Perugino. The Uffizi is more representative of non-Italian schools, but is best known for its works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Sodoma, the schools of Tuscany and Umbria forming the bulk of both collections. Admission to the galleries is by payment, and the small income derived from this source is devoted to maintaining and enlarging the collections.
Fig. 2.—Plan of the first and second floors of the Imperial Gallery, Vienna.
As to the ground plans of the National Gallery, London (fig. 1), and of the Imperial Gallery at Vienna (fig. 2), it will be observed that while the former has the advantage of uniform top-light, the galleries at Vienna possess the most ample facilities for minute classification, small rooms or “cabinets” opening from each large room. Special rooms are also provided for drawings and water-colours, while special ranges of rooms are used by copyists and those responsible for the repair and preservation of the pictures.
Though not so comprehensive as the great collections just described, the state galleries showing national schools of painting and little else are of striking interest. In England the National Gallery of British Art (known as the State
schools. Tate Gallery) contains British pictures. The corresponding collection of modern French art is at Paris (Luxembourg Palace), Berlin, Rome, Dresden, Vienna and Madrid having analogous galleries. The Victoria and Albert Museum has also numerous British pictures, especially in water-colour, and the National Portrait Gallery, founded in 1856, and since 1896 housed in its permanent home, is instructive in this connexion, though many of its pictures are the work of foreign artists. The national collections at Dublin and Edinburgh may be mentioned here, though most schools are represented. Brussels and Antwerp are remarkable for fine examples of Flemish art—Matsys, Memlinc and Van Eyck of the primitive schools, Rubens and Van Dyck of the later period. The collections at Amsterdam (Ryks Museum) and the Hague (Mauritshuis) are a revelation to those who have only studied Rembrandt, Franz Hals, Van der Helst, and other Dutch portrait painters outside Holland; and in the former gallery especially, the pictures are arranged in a manner showing them to the best advantage. The Museo del Prado is even more noteworthy, for the fifty examples of Velasquez (outrivalling the Italian pictures, important as they are) make a visit to Madrid imperative to those who wish to realize the achievements of Spanish art. Christiania, Stockholm and Copenhagen have large collections of Scandinavian art, and the cities of Budapest and Basel have galleries of some importance. In Italy the state maintains twelve collections, mainly devoted to pictorial art. Of these the best are situated at Bologna, Lucca, Parma, Venice, Modena, Turin and Milan. In each case the local school of painting is fully represented. In Rome the Corsini and Borghese Galleries, the latter being the most catholic in the city, contain superb examples, some of them accepted masterpieces of Italian art; there are also good foreign pictures, but their number is limited. The Accademia at Florence should also be noted as the most important state gallery of early Italian art. The central Italian Renaissance can be more adequately studied here than in the Pitti. The “Primavera” of Botticelli, and the “Last Judgment” by Fra Angelico are perhaps the best-known works. The large statue of David by Michelangelo is also in this gallery, which, on the whole, is one of the most remarkable in Italy. Speaking broadly, these national galleries scattered throughout the country are not well arranged or classified; and though some are kept in fine old buildings, beautiful in themselves, the lighting is often indifferent, and it is with difficulty that the pictures can be seen. In nearly every case admission fees are charged every day, festivals and Sundays excepted; few pictures are bought, acquisitions being chiefly made by removing pictures from churches.
Many towns own collections of well-merited repute. In Italy such galleries are common, and among them may be noted Siena, with Sodoma and his school; Venice with Tintoretto (Doge’s Palace); Genoa, with the great Municipal galleries
schools. palaces Balbi and Rosso; Vicenza (Montagna and school), Ferrara (Dosso and school), Bergamo and Milan (north Italian schools). Other civic collections of Italian art are maintained at Verona, Pisa, Rome, Perugia and Padua. In Holland, Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam and the Hague have galleries supplemental to those of the state, and are remarkable in showing the brilliance of artists like Grebber, de Bray and Ravesteyn, who are usually ignored. Birmingham and Manchester have good examples of modern British art. Moscow (Tretiakoff collection) has modern Russian pictures, and contemporary German and French work will be found in all the galleries of these two countries included in the municipal group. Collections of French work are found at Amiens, Rouen, Nancy, Tours, Le Mans and Angers, but large as these civic collections are, sometimes containing six and eight hundred canvases, few of their pictures are really good, many being the enormous patriotic canvases marked “Don de l’État,” which do not confer distinction on the galleries. Cologne has the central collection of the early Rhenish school; Nuremberg is remarkable for early German work (Wohlgemut, &c.). Stuttgart, Cassel (Dutch) and Hamburg (with a considerable number of British pictures) are also noteworthy, together with Brunswick, Hanover, Augsburg, Darmstadt and Düsseldorf, where German and Dutch art preponderate. Seville is famous for twenty-five examples of Murillo, and there are old Spanish paintings at Valencia, Cordova and Cadiz.
In Great Britain the best of the municipal galleries of general schools are at Liverpool (early Flemish and British), and at Glasgow (Scottish painters, Rembrandt, Van der Goes and Venetian schools). In France there are Municipal galleries of general schools. very large galleries at Tours, Montpellier, Lyons (Perugino, Rubens), Dijon and Grenoble (Italian), Valenciennes (Watteau and school), while Rennes, Lille and Marseilles have first-rate collections. Nantes, Orleans, Besançon, Cherbourg and Caen have also many paintings, French for the most part, but with occasional foreign pictures of real importance, presented by the state during the Napoleonic conquests, and not returned on the declaration of peace as were the works of art amassed in Paris. Some of the American collections have in recent years made a great advance in their acquisition of good pictures. At Boston (Museum of Fine Arts) all schools are represented, so too at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which is strong in Italian and Dutch works. Modern French and Flemish art is a feature of the Academy at Philadelphia, at the Lenox Library (New York), and at Chicago, where there are good examples of Millet, Constable and Rembrandt. The Corcoran bequest at Washington is of minor importance. The best civic collection in Germany of this class is the Städel Institute at Frankfort (Van Eyck, Christus, early Flemish and Italian).
As the great bulk of religious painting was executed for church decoration, there are still numberless churches which may be considered picture galleries. Thus at Antwerp cathedral the Rubens paintings are remarkable; at Churches. Ghent, Van Eyck; at Bruges (hospital of St John), Memlinc; at Pisa, the Campo Santo (early Tuscan schools); at Sant’ Apollinare, Ravenna, primitive Italo-Byzantine mosaics; at Siena, Pinturichio. Examples could be multiplied indefinitely—in Italy alone there are 80,000 churches and chapels, in all of which pictorial art has been employed. In Italy, besides the church “galleries” still used for religious services, there are some which have been secularized and are now used as museums, e.g. Certosa at Pavia, and San Vitale at Ravenna (mosaics); at Florence, the Scalzo (Andrea del Sarto); San Marco (Fra Angelico); the Riccardi and Pazzi chapels (Gozzoli and Perugino); at Milan, in the Santa Maria delle Grazie, the “Last Supper,” by Leonardo, and at Padua, the famous Arena chapel (Giotto).
The Vatican galleries, though best known for their statuary, have fine examples of painting, chiefly of the Italian school; the most famous easel picture is Raphael’s “Transfiguration,” but the Stanze, apartments entirely Private
galleries. decorated by painting, are even more famous. In England three royal palaces are open to the public—Hampton Court (Mantegna), Windsor (Van Dyck, Zuccarelli), and Kensington (portraits). At Buckingham Palace the Dutch pictures are admirable, and Queen Victoria lent the celebrated Raphael cartoons to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Semi-private collections belong to Dulwich College (Velasquez and Watteau), Oxford University (Italian drawings), the Soane Museum (Hogarth and English school), and the Royal Academy (Leonardo). Among private collections the most important are the Harrach, and Prince Liechtenstein (Vienna), J. Pierpont Morgan (including miniatures), Mrs J. Gardner of Boston (Italian), Prince Corsini (Florence). In Great Britain there are immense riches in private houses, though many collections have been dispersed. The most noteworthy (1909) belong to the dukes of Devonshire and Westminster, Lord Ellesmere, Captain Holford (including the masterpiece of Cuyp), Ludwig Mond, Lord Lansdowne, Miss Rothschild. The finest private collection is at Panshanger, formerly the seat of Lord Cowper, the gallery of Van Dyck’s work being quite the best in the world.
Many galleries are devoted to periodical exhibitions in London; the Royal Academy is the leading agency of this character, having held exhibitions since 1769. Its loan exhibitions of Old Masters are most important. Similar Periodical
mercial. enterprises are the New Gallery, opened in 1888, the Grafton Gallery, and others. There are also old-established societies of etchers, water-colourists, &c. A feature common to these exhibitions is that the public always pays for admission, though they differ from the commercial exhibitions, becoming more common every year, in which the work of a single school or painter is shown for profit. But the annual exhibitions at the Guildhall, under the auspices of the corporation, are free. The great periodical exhibition of French art is known as the Salon, and for some years it has had a rival in the Champ de Mars exhibition. These two societies are now respectively housed in the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, in the Champs Elysées, which were erected in connexion with the Paris Exhibition of 1900, but with the ultimate object of being devoted to the service of the two Salons. Berlin, Rome, Vienna and other Continental towns have regular exhibitions of original work.