The Courtauld Collects! 20 Years of Acquisitions

17 June – 19 September 2010

“Celebrate one of the treasures of the London art world …”
The Times

This display explored some of the exceptional new additions to The Courtauld’s collection twenty years after its move to Somerset House. Highlights included works ranging from Turner, Degas and Seurat to Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst. The show also unveils one of the most important new acquisitions, Joshua Reynolds’s late masterpiece Cupid and Psyche

The Courtauld Gallery is sometimes described as a “collection of collections” and has grown historically through the generosity of private individuals who have endowed it with the remarkable collections which they formed.

This grand tradition of philanthropy, initiated at the Gallery by Samuel Courtauld in the 1930s, still survives and continues to extend and enhance The Courtauld Gallery’s world-famous collections.

The display celebrated the achievements of the first twenty years at Somerset House and looked forward to the future development of the collections.

This exhibition presented a rich selection of works of art acquired by The Courtauld Gallery since it moved to Somerset House twenty years ago.  The Courtauld Gallery is sometimes described as a ‘collection of collections’ and has grown historically through the generosity of private individuals who have endowed it with the remarkable collections which they formed.  This grand tradition of philanthropy, initiated at the Gallery by Samuel Courtauld in the 1930s, continues to extend and enhance The Courtauld Gallery’s world-famous collections.

In 2007 the Gallery was bequeathed a magnificent group of over fifty major British watercolours, including nine works by Turner, assembled by Dorothy Scharf.  Alongside such extraordinary acts of philanthropy the Gallery has also grown through gifts of single works of art and, very occasionally, by direct purchases made with the assistance of charities such as The Art Fund.

The display presents a wide range of works by celebrated masters and lesser-known figures. Highlights include watercolours by Turner and Constable, a beautiful drawing by Ingres (once owned by Samuel Courtauld) for his celebrated Grande Odalisque, fine Victorian watercolours by the esteemed Frederick Walker and a rare 18th century pastel by John Russell showing one of the porters of the Royal Academy at Somerset House.

Also on display are sculptures by Degas and Rodin and paintings by Peploe, Reynolds (for who see more below), Lely and Roger Fry, as well as oil sketches by Seurat.

Most recently the sculptors Sir Anthony Caro, Phillip King and Richard Long have presented examples of their early work to the Gallery, helping to extend the collections more fully into the second half of the twentieth century.

Another very recent gift is a series of prints by leading contemporary British artists, including Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor.

Supported by the Finnis Scott Foundation

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