1902 Encyclopedia > London > Art Galleries; British Museum; South Kensington Museum; Other Museums

(Part 28)


Art Galleries; British Museum; South Kensington Museum; Other Museums

The most influential and the oldest institution in London connected with painting and sculpture is the Royal Academy of Fine Arts founded in 1768, which, besides its annual exhibitions of art in its new buildings in Burlington Garden’s Burlington House, erected in 1868-69, in the Italian Reniassance style from the designs of Smirke, has also organized classes for art instruction. The Society of Painters in Water-Colors, establish in 1804, the Society of British Artists, founded in 1822 and incorporated in 1847, and the Institute of Painters in Water-Colors, hold each an annual exhibition. The National Gallery of Paintings originated in the purchase by parliament in 1824 of the collection of J.J. Augerstein 57,000 pounds. The present Grecian building by Wilkins in Trafalgar Square (1832-38) was enlarged in 1860 and 1869, and in 1876 a new wing was added by Barry at a cost of over 80,000 pounds. The collection has received many additions both by purchase and bequest, and besides many noble examples of the old masters, contains some of the finest pictures of the English school, including the magnificent Turner collection. The National Portrait Gallery, the nucleus of which was formed in 1858, was removed to Exhibition Road, South Kensington in 1870. In the Grosvenor Gallery, New Bond Street, erected by Sir Coutts Lindsay in 1877, there are annual exhibitions of works of art, and occasionally other special exhibitions. Several of the mansions of the nobility contain art galleries, which are open to the public on certain conditions. The most famous of these are perhaps the Grosvenor Gallery in the residence of the duke of Westminster, and the Bridgewater gallery in the residence of the earl of Ellesmere.

The British Museum, Bloomsbury, originated in the purchase by Government in 1753 of the collection and library of Sir Hans Sloane, and occupies the site of Montague House. for the reception of the Egyptian antiquities presented by George I. (1801), of the Townley marbles (1805), and of the Elgin marbles (1816), a new wing was added to the building in 1823, but after the presentation of the king’s library of George IV. in the same year, it was resolved gradually to reconstructed the whole building, the first portion being finished in 1828, and the work (except the new reading-room) completed in 1852. The exterior of the building is plain, with the exception of the massive Ionic portico at the principal entrance. The contents of the museum are divided into departments, which are under the charge of a keeper and one or more assistant keepers. The departments still at Bloomsbury are those of Printed Books, Manuscripts, Oriental MSS., Zoology, Oriental Antiquities, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Coins and Medals, British, and Mediaeval Antiquties and Ethnography, and Prints and Drawings. The collection both as a whole and in several departments-especially Greek and Roman Antiquities and Engravings-is unequalled in the world, and in all the departments a very high degree of completeness has been attained. For the library and reading room, see Libraries, p. 515.

South Kensington Museum, which is under the direction of the Committee of Council on Education, was originated by the late Prince Consort in 1852. The present building, to which the collection was removed from Marlborough House in 1857, is erected of red brick and terra cotta in the Italian Renaissance style, and, though still in process of construction and development, includes a fine range of apartments, the interior consisting of courts and corridors of graceful proportions, and decorated with various designs. It contains a collection of objects of ornamental art, both ancient and modern, as applied to manufactures, a national gallery of British art, in addition to the Foster and Dyce collections, and a fine collection of water color paintings, an extensive art library, a collection of sculpture chiefly of the Renaissance period, reproductions of ancient sculptures and paintings, and collections of animal products employed in the arts, of substances used for food, and of materials used for building and construction. Some of the rooms are occupied chiefly by articles on loan. In connection with the institution there is a National Art Training School, as well as a School of Science and school of Cookery. The Bethnal Green Museum, a branch of South Kensington Museum, opened in 1872 besides a permanent food collection, and a collection of animal products, is occupied with various collections on loan. The India Museum, which was removed in 1880 from the India Office to a building in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, and placed under the care of the South Kensington Museum directors, contains a magnificent collection of every variety of Indian art and manufacture. The Soane Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, bequeathed to the nation by Sir John Soane in 1837, contains an architectural library, various models of famous ancient buildings, antique sculptures, gems, vases, and bronzes, and several fine paintings. The Royal Architectrual Museum, Westminster, founded in 1851, is intended specially to advance the art of architecture by examples of the works of various nations and times, and by courses of lectures, and drawing and modeling classes.

Clubs – see CLUB, vol. vi. P. 41.

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