Courtauld Gallery

Last updated

Courtauld Gallery
Courtauld Gallery logo.gif
Coultauld Galleries.jpg
Interior of the Courtauld Gallery
Open street map central london.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Central London
Established1932;88 years ago (1932)
Location Somerset House, Strand
London, WC2
Coordinates Coordinates: 51°30′42.3″N0°07′02.9″W / 51.511750°N 0.117472°W / 51.511750; -0.117472
TypeArt collection
Collection size530 paintings; 26,000 drawings
Director Ernst Vegelin
Public transit access Underground no-text.svg Temple
National Rail logo.svg Charing Cross

The Courtauld Gallery ( UK: /ˈkɔːrtld/ ) 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 collection contains some 530 paintings and over 26,000 drawings and prints. [1] The head of the Courtauld Gallery is Ernst Vegelin. [2] The gallery closed on 3 September, 2018 for a major redevelopment, called Courtauld Connects, and is due to reopen in 2021. [3] [4]


Pugin's Exhibition Room, Somerset House, showing a room which is now part of the Courtauld Gallery The Exhibition Room at Somerset House by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin. 1800..jpg
Pugin's Exhibition Room, Somerset House, showing a room which is now part of the Courtauld Gallery

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.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1882) by Edouard Manet Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere.jpg
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882) by Édouard Manet

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. [1] [5]

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. [6]

The gallery closed on 3 September 2018 for at least two years during a major redevelopment costing £50M. [4]


The Strand block of Somerset House, designed by William Chambers from 1775 to 1780, home of the Courtauld Institute and the Courtauld Gallery since 1989 Somerset House, Strand.jpg
The Strand block of Somerset House, designed by William Chambers from 1775 to 1780, home of the Courtauld Institute and the Courtauld Gallery since 1989

From 1958 to 1989 the Courtauld collection was housed in part of the premises of the Warburg Institute in Woburn Square; [7] 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). [8]

Highlights of the collection


Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, by Vincent van Gogh; oil on canvas; Arles, January 1889 Vincent van Gogh - Self-portrait with bandaged ear (1889, Courtauld Institute).jpg
Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear , by Vincent van Gogh; oil on canvas; Arles, January 1889
The Customs Post, c. 1890; by Henri Rousseau The Customs Post by Henri Rousseau c1890.jpg
The Customs Post, c. 1890; by Henri Rousseau
Portrait of Don Francisco de Saavedra, by Francisco Goya Francisco-Saavedra-by-Goya.jpg
Portrait of Don Francisco de Saavedra, by Francisco Goya

Dutch School

Early Netherlandish

English School

Flemish School

French School

German School

Italian School

Spanish School

Gambier-Parry Collection

Most of the Gambier-Parry items on display at the Courtauld Gallery are in this room on the ground floor. Courtauld galleries, prima sala.JPG
Most of the Gambier-Parry items on display at the Courtauld Gallery are in this room on the ground floor.

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. [9]

Lorenzo Monaco, Coronation of the Virgin, 1388-90 Lorenzo Monaco, Coronation of the Virgin, Christ Redeemer, 1388-90, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery.jpg
Lorenzo Monaco, Coronation of the Virgin, 1388-90

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. [10] There is a Limoges enamel book cover panel, a number of Renaissance Limoges items, and several small Gothic ivories. [10] [11] [12]


The Courtauld publishes an online image collection,, [13] 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.

Two other websites [14] and [15] sell high resolution digital files to scholars, publishers and broadcasters, and photographic prints to the general public.

Related Research Articles

Camille Pissarro French painter

Camille Pissarro was a Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas. His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Pissarro studied from great forerunners, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He later studied and worked alongside Georges Seurat and Paul Signac when he took on the Neo-Impressionist style at the age of 54.

Impressionism 19th-century art movement

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities, ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. Impressionism originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.

Paul Cézanne 19th-century French painter

Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavor to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir French painter and sculptor

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau."

Musée dOrsay Art museum, Design/Textile Museum, Historic site in Rue de Lille Paris, France

The Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986. It is one of the largest art museums in Europe. Musée d'Orsay had more than 3.6 million visitors in 2019.

Ashmolean Museum University Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, England

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum. Its first building was erected in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677.

Post-Impressionism Predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905

Post-Impressionism is a predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905, from the last Impressionist exhibition to the birth of Fauvism. Post-Impressionism emerged as a reaction against Impressionists' concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour. Due to its broad emphasis on abstract qualities or symbolic content, Post-Impressionism encompasses Les Nabis, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Cloisonnism, Pont-Aven School, and Synthetism, along with some later Impressionists' work. The movement was led by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat.

Gustave Caillebotte French painter

Gustave Caillebotte was a French painter who was a member and patron of the Impressionists, although he painted in a more realistic manner than many others in the group. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an art form.

Fitzwilliam Museum University Museum of fine art and antiquities in Cambridge, England

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge. It is located on Trumpington Street opposite Fitzwilliam Street in central Cambridge. It was founded in 1816 under the will of Richard FitzWilliam, 7th Viscount FitzWilliam (1745-1816), and comprises one of the best collections of antiquities and modern art in western Europe. With over half a million objects and artworks in its collections, the displays in the Museum explore world history and art from antiquity to the present. The treasures of the museum include artworks by Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Dyck, and Canaletto, as well as a winged bas-relief from Nimrud. Admission to the public is always free.

Legion of Honor (museum) Art museum in California, United States of America

The Legion of Honor, formally known as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, is a part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The name is used both for the museum collection and for the building in which it is housed.

National Museum of Art of Romania Art museum in Bucharest, Romania

The National Museum of Art of Romania is located in the Royal Palace in Revolution Square, central Bucharest. It features collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, as well as the international collection assembled by the Romanian royal family.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Art museum in Madrid, Spain

The Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, or simply the Thyssen, is an art museum in Madrid, Spain, located near the Prado Museum on one of city's main boulevards. It is known as part of the "Golden Triangle of Art", which also includes the Prado and the Reina Sofia national galleries. The Thyssen-Bornemisza fills the historical gaps in its counterparts' collections: in the Prado's case this includes Italian primitives and works from the English, Dutch and German schools, while in the case of the Reina Sofia it concerns Impressionists, Expressionists, and European and American paintings from the 20th century.

Stephen Carlton Clark American art collector, businessman, newspaper publisher and philanthropist

Stephen Carlton Clark was an American art collector, businessman, newspaper publisher and philanthropist. He founded the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

John Rewald American art historian

John Rewald was an American academic, author and art historian. He was known as a scholar of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cézanne, Renoir, Pissarro, Seurat, and other French painters of the late 19th century. He was recognized as a foremost authority on late 19th-century art. His History of Impressionism is a standard work.

Foundation E.G. Bührle Art museum in Zürich, Switzerland

The Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection is an art museum in Zürich, Switzerland. It was established by the Bührle family to make Emil Georg Bührle's collection of European sculptures and paintings available to the public. The museum is in a villa adjoining Bührle's former home.

Collection of the National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is the primary British national public art gallery, sited on Trafalgar Square, in central London. It is home to one of the world's greatest collections of Western European paintings. Founded in 1824, from an initial purchase of 36 paintings by the British Government, its collections have since grown to about 2,300 paintings by roughly 750 artists dating from the mid-13th century to 1900, most of which are on display. This page lists some of the highlights of the collection.

Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe museum in Karlsruhe, Germany

The Staatliche Kunsthalle is an art museum in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Lillie P. Bliss American art collector and patron

Lizzie Plummer Bliss, known as Lillie P. Bliss, was an American art collector and patron. At the beginning of the 20th century, she was one of the leading collectors of modern art in New York. One of the lenders to the landmark Armory Show in 1913, she also contributed to other exhibitions concerned with raising public awareness of modern art. In 1929, she played an essential role in the founding of the Museum of Modern Art. After her death, 150 works of art from her collection served as a foundation to the museum and formed the basis of the in-house collection. These included works by artists such as Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani.

Antoine Seilern Art Historian and Collector

Count Antoine Seilern was an Anglo-Austrian art collector and art historian. He was considered, along with Sir Denis Mahon, to be one of a handful of important collectors who was also a respected scholar. The bulk of his collection was bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute of Art and most is on display at the Courtauld Gallery in London.

<i>The Thread of Art</i> 2012 graphic novel

The Thread of Art is a graphic novel created by Serbian artist Gradimir Smudja and his daughter Ivana Smudja. The novel was originally published in French in two volumes, in 2012 and 2015.


  1. 1 2 John Murdoch (1998). The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 7.
  2. Dr Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen. The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2013. Accessed April 2013. Archived here.
  3. "After the National Gallery, the Courtauld is the latest London institution to send masterpieces to Japan".
  4. 1 2 correspondent, Mark Brown Arts (23 November 2017). "Courtauld Gallery to close for two years for £50m revamp" via
  5. 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.
  6. The Collection: Drawings and Prints: the collectors. Courtauld Institute of Art, 2012. Accessed April 2013.
  7. About Us: A Short History of the Courtauld. The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2011. Accessed April 2013.
  8. Farr, Dennis; Newman, John (1990). Guide to the Courtauld Institute Galleries at Somerset House. London: Courtauld Institute Galleries. p. 36.
  9. Search for "Gambier Parry" on A&A – art and architecture. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed June 2013.
  10. 1 2 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).
  11. 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).
  12. 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).
  13. Art and architecture. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  14. Courtauld Images. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  15. Courtauld Prints. Courtauld Gallery of Art. Accessed April 2013.