The National Gallery: An Illustrated History, By Alan Crookham

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The Independent Culture

Archivist Alan Crookham takes us from the gallery's birth in 1838 ( with its sum collection of 38 works) to the appointment of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, its first director, whose grand tour around Europe to amass artworks may leave the current incumbent, Nicholas Penny, green-eyed with envy.

The central intrigues in the gallery's history are covered: the furore over Wilkins' orignial buiding designs; campaigns that have saved a Da Vinci, a Holbein as well as Titian's Diana and Acteon last year, but - just for quibbles sake - no mention of the rule prohibiting the purchase of art produced after 1900 (now under review) or the 1845 scandal when a forged Holbein was bought.