All wrapped up, nowhere to go
The Courtauld Gallery closes tomorrow for refurbishment: some works will be lent, others stored. Vanessa Thorpe reports
Sunday 31 August 1997
The picture is one of around 400 works that are going into storage while the Courtauld Gallery, housed in the north wing of Somerset House on The Strand, is refurbished. It will be closed from tomorrow. Some of the most prestigious paintings will go on loan to other galleries during the pounds 2.5m building work, but more than half the collection will be out of circulation until next autumn at the earliest. In addition to the Cranach, a renowned 1778 Gainsborough portrait of the artist's wife on her 50th birthday and a popular Tintoretto, The Adoration of the Shepherds, will also be wrapped up and stowed in warehouses while the gallery's decorative plasterwork is restored and the lighting improved.
Often the poor, forgotten relation, the Courtauld hopes to reopen in a blaze of brilliance, enabling it to rival Europe's major galleries and live up to the grandeur of its home of seven years beneath Sir William Chambers' allegorical sculptures of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance in the building often cited as one of the finest in London.
"It would be impossible to keep the pictures on the site during the work because it would not be a safe environment," said a gallery spokeswoman. "We feel we have taken up all the opportunities to lend out and we are pleased that a lot of our best known works will be on display elsewhere." The Courtauld's recent lottery grant will pay for the restoration work and an air-conditioning system, while the prints and drawings gallery and the cafe will be re-organised.
The gallery's collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings will be sent to Japan where it will tour three venues. Cezanne's moody Lac d'Annecy (1896) will be one of the stars of the trip. Other noted works in this section of the collection include Manet's ubiquitous A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, and oils by Degas, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir.
Twenty-nine other paintings, including a Van Gogh portrait, will go to the National Gallery and 13 will go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. One Rubens, The Bounty of King James Triumphing over Avarice, will spend a year at the London Tate.
The temporary closure of the Courtauld can be seen as a small step backwards in the campaign to openall of Somerset House to the public. Formerly used to keep the registrar-general's birth, death and marriage records, the neo-Palladian building on the Thames is still occupied by the Lord Chancellor's Department and staff from the Inland Revenue. Ministers first promised to open it up to the public in 1971.
The gallery moved into the north wing seven years ago, along with its sister, the Courtauld Institute. Both are part of London University and the art collection was bequeathed by the industrialist Samuel Courtauld.
Eventually the whole site is to become a grand arts venue, thanks to a lottery grant. The pounds 75m Arthur Gilbert silverware collection - the biggest art bequest made to the nation - will move to another wing within the next two years. The central quadrangle, now a car park, may be used for open-air concerts and the 860ft river-front terrace will be opened to the public.
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 3 Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...