An image of the new Blavatnik Fine rooms, showing a display case including decorative arts and paintings on the rear wall such as the Botticelli Altarpiece

News Archive 2020

The Courtauld announces the opening of the Blavatnik Fine Rooms

16 Dec 2020

Read time: 3 mins

The Courtauld has announced the opening of the Blavatnik Fine Rooms in late 2021, as part of the opening of the new Courtauld Gallery. The complete restoration, repair and refurbishment of the rooms has been made possible by a lead donation of £10 million from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the philanthropists Sir Leonard and Lady Blavatnik – one of the most significant donations in the history of The Courtauld.

The six galleries of the Blavatnik Fine Rooms will be situated on the second floor of The Courtauld when it opens. The galleries will showcase some of the greatest works in The Courtauld’s collection, ranging from the Renaissance to the 18th Century, and from paintings to decorative arts. The Courtauld’s celebrated collection of works by Peter Paul Rubens will be one of the highlights of these displays. The extensive renovation of the galleries will greatly increase their accessibility, as well as allow the collection to be displayed better and more beautifully than ever before – bringing it to new audiences and enabling them to engage with the works in new ways.

Freshly restored and reinterpreted, visitors will also be able to appreciate and enjoy the rooms themselves as remarkable architectural and historic spaces. They were originally designed for England’s greatest learned societies: The Royal Academy of Art, The Royal Society and The Society of Antiquaries. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Fine Rooms were home to these leading institutions of art, science, and history. It was in these spaces that early demonstrations of photography took place, major scientific announcements were made – such as the discovery of the planet Uranus – and where the leading artists of the age, including Constable and Turner, met and discussed painting and sculpture. It was also where new generations of artists were trained – one of the Fine Rooms was used as a Royal Academy drawing school where students learned to draw from casts of Antique sculpture. Through new interpretation, The Courtauld will tell the stories of these rooms and bring them to life for visitors.

Highlights of the Blavatnik Fine Rooms will include:

· Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (currently on display at the National Gallery, London)

· The Family of Jan Bruegel the Elder and The Descent From The Cross by Peter Paul Rubens

· The Trinity with Saints altarpiece by Sandro Botticelli

· Landscape with a flight into Egypt by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

· Portrait of Margaret Gainsborough by Thomas Gainsborough

Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director at The Courtauld said: “The transformation of The Courtauld would not be possible without the support of our donors, and we are delighted that Sir Leonard and Lady Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation have made such a generous philanthropic donation. The Blavatnik Fine Rooms will be a particular highlight of the new Courtauld Gallery, and this contribution has been vital in allowing us to make this exquisite and highly significant set of rooms more beautiful and accessible than ever before.”

The Courtauld Gallery will open at Somerset House in late 2021.