Located just off the Strand in the north wing of Somerset House, the Courtauld has one of Britain’s greatest collections of paintings, and contains many works of world importance. Although there are some outstanding works from earlier periods, the collection’s strongest suit is its holdings of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.
Video: Introduction to the Courtauld Gallery:
|Location||Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2|
|Collection size||530 paintings, 26,000 drawings|
The Courtauld Gallery UK 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. In total, the collection contains some 530 paintings and over 26,000 drawings and prints. The Head of the Courtauld Gallery is Ernst Vegelin.
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The Courtauld Gallery is open to the public. 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 Royal Academy, founded in 1768, of which Chambers was the first Treasurer. The Royal Academy occupied them from their completion in 1780 until it moved to the new National Gallery building in Trafalgar Square in 1837. The entrance to the Great Room, in which the annual Royal Academy summer exhibition was held, has a formidable Greek inscription meaning “Let no stranger to the Muses enter”. From 1958 to 1989 the Courtauld collection was housed in part of the premises of the Warburg Institute in Woburn Square; it was thus separated from the Courtauld Institute, which was in Home House, Portman Square.
Somerset House is a large Neoclassical building situated on the south side of the Strand in central London, England, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The building, originally the site of a Tudor palace, was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776, and further extended with Victorian wings to the north and south. The East Wing forms part of the adjacent King’s College London.
- The Entombment Triptych (or “Seilern Triptych”) – Robert Campin (c. 1375 – 26 April 1444).
The Seilern Triptych is one of the finest masterpieces of Early Netherlandish painting. It was painted by a highly talented artist who has been identified as Robert Campin from Tournai, also known as the Master of Flémalle.
- Adam and Eve, 1526 – Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472 – 16 October 1553).
Adam and Eve brilliantly combines devotional meaning with pictorial elegance and invention.The scene is set in a forest clearing where Eve stands before the Tree of Knowledge, caught in the act of handing an apple to a bewildered Adam. Entwined in the tree’s branches above, the serpent looks on as Adam succumbs to temptation.
- The Family Of Jan Brueghel The Elder, 1613-15 – Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640)
This tender portrait celebrates family and friendship. In it Rubens portrays his dear friend Jan Brueghel the Elder, with his wife and children. Rubens and Brueghel jointly produced many paintings. In these Rubens painted the figures, and Brueghel the animals.
- Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine, ca. 1887 – Paul Cézanne ( 1839–1906)
The Montagne Sainte-Victoire is situated to the east of Cézanne’s birthplace, Aix-en-Provence, and its broken silhouette dominates the town. Cézanne painted it throughout his career, and it was a subject to which he attributed great significance. Here, it is seen from a point to the west of Aix, near Cézanne’s family home, the Jas de Bouffan, with the valley of the river Arc in the foreground.
- A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882 – Édouard Manet (23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883)
painted and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882, was the last major work by French painter Édouard Manet. It depicts a scene in the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris. It originally belonged to the composer Emmanuel Chabrier, who was Manet’s neighbor, and hung over his piano.
The Folies-Bergère was Paris’s first music hall, described by one magazine as having an atmosphere of ‘unmixed joy’. It was notorious as a place for men to pick up prostitutes; the poet Maupassant said the barmaids were ‘vendors of drink and of love’.
- Nevermore, 1897 – Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin; 7 June 1848 – 8 May 1903)
- Self-portrait with bandaged ear, 1889 – Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890)
Paul Gauguin joined van Gogh in the town of Arles in November 1888, to paint together in what van Gogh called the ‘studio of the south’, but they quickly started to quarrel. After a vicious argument, van Gogh mutilated his right ear.
This self-portrait was one of the first works van Gogh painted after this incident (another, showing him smoking a pipe, is reproduced here). He believed that the act of painting would help him recover his mental equilibrium.
Van Gogh, Self-portrait with bandaged ear