National Gallery vs Metropolitan Museum acquisitions

January 9 2014

Image of National Gallery vs Metropolitan Museum acquisitions

Picture: NG London

A reader sends in this helpful statistical breakdown of the National Gallery's recent acquisitions, and, below, compares it with those of the Met in New York over the same period. In terms of numbers the Met, not surprisingly, comes out top.

By my reckoning the [newly acquired] van Gogh portrait is the 100th picture to enter the National Gallery’s collection in the last twenty years (not counting the two works bequeathed by Simon Sainsbury but not yet accessioned): so here are a few stats,

Acquisition Method

  • 5 Bequeathed Directly (inc 3 by Simon Sainsbury and 1 by Denis Mahon)
  • 53 Presented (inc 25 by the Trustees of Sir Denis Mahon's Charitable Trust, 14 by HM Government through AIL – some with additional finance assistance, 7 by Heinz Berggruen as part of the Seurat deal)
  • 42 Purchased (inc 2 with the National Gallery of Scotland and 1 with the Barber Institute)

Artists By Number 

  • 10 - Luca Giordano – the Palazzo Medici Riccardi sketches from Denis Mahon
  • 8 Georges-Pierre Seurat – inc the 7 sketches presented by Heinz Berggruen
  • 6 Guercino – all but one from the Denis Mahon collection
  • 4 Joachim Beuckelaer – the set of the elements
  • 3 Claude-Oscar Monet 

Two works by several artists were also added to the collection over the period – Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Ludovico Carracci, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Anthony van Dyck, Pierre Peyron, Franceco di Stefano (Pesellino), Titian, Anonymous Umbrian Master, and Claude Joseph Vernet.

Perhaps more interesting is how these works have affected the collection in terms of representation.  The Mahon gift gave the Gallery its first works by Assereto, Castello, Creti, Schedoni and Stom.  Otherwise, artists now represented include:

  • (from the 13th c) Cimabue, the Clarisse Master (attr), anonymous Umbrian Master
  • (from the 14th c) Daddi
  • (from the 15th c) Bermejo
  • (from the 16th c) Beuckelaer, Polidoro da Caravaggio, Fiorentino, Huber, Macchietti (attr), Wertinger
  • (from the 17th c) van der Ast, Bosschaert, Brouwer
  • (from the 18th c) Danloux, Maulbertsch, Peyron, Raeburn – this one shouldn’t count as the Gallery displayed one before but transferred it to Tate - Subleyras
  • (from the 19th c) Balke, Bonnington, Carolsfeld  Cels, Simon Denis. Fabre, Menzel, Rysselberghe. Signorini
  • (from the 20th c) Gallen-Kallela

And for the Met:

In the same period I gave you figures for the National Gallery’s additions, their Department of European Paintings (and therefore not including any relevant works in The Cloisters or the Modern Department) accessioned almost 400 works. It’s difficult to be precise as they may not yet have added records for 2013 and may have already de-accessioned others. It’s worth noting too that this figure includes pastels – which the National Gallery has determined it will not purchase.

Around 70 were from bequests (including the Annenberg collection), 190 by Gift (including the Thaw collection of 123 sketches jointly owned with the Morgan Library), and 140 by Purchase (also including a large group of around 50 sketches from the Thaw collection that seem to be part gift/part purchase).

Among the “big name” acquisitions were 3 Annibale Carraccis (including one sold by The Royal Scottish Academy and one picked up as a sleeper [at Christie's New York, in 1998], 6 Cezannes, 6 Corots, 5 Degas, 3 Delacroix, 7 Fantin-Latours, 4 Gauguins, 6 van Goghs. 3 Manets, 7 Monets, 6 Renoirs, 3 Toulouse-Lautrecs (the majority of these from the Annenberg collection),  Among single works by artists added were works by Barocci, Bassano, Caravaggio, Duccio, Daddi, Domenichino (export stopped from the UK),Gerard David, Gericault, Ingres, Lorenzetti, Claude Lorrain, Menzel, Millet, Poussin, Seurat, Uccello, Veronese and Wright of Derby (last year).  

They also received by bequest this work [by the Master of the Berswordt Altar, which used to belong to the National Gallery, London!]

There’s been a determined effort over the period to improve the collection in particular areas – 17thc Italian, 18thc pastels, early 19thc works, particularly French Romantic and German.

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