National Gallery of Art

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, established by an act of Congress, 1937. Andrew W. Mellon donated funds for construction of the building as well as his own collection of 130 American portraits. The marble West Building was designed by John Russell Pope; it opened in Mar., 1941. The East Building, designed by I. M. Pei, was completed in 1978. The outdoor sculpture garden opened in 1999. Among the works in the gallery are Samuel H. Kress's collection of Italian masterpieces, the Joseph E. Widener Collection, the Chester Dale Collection, the Lessing J. Rosenwald collection of drawings and prints, the Edgar W. and Bernice C. Garbisch collection of American naive paintings, and the Paul Mellon collection of portraits of Native Americans by George Catlin. The gallery's paintings number more than 1,200 and it also has a significant number of drawings and prints. The collection is especially rich in Italian, French, and American works. The museum also maintains a research center, a library, and the Index of American Design, consisting of some 18,000 watercolors illustrating the history of American crafts and folk art.

See H. Cairns and J. Walker, ed., A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art (2 vol., 1966); M. Wilson, The National Gallery (1984); M. Richler, National Gallery of Art, Washington: A World of Art (1998); J. Hand, Master Paintings from the Collection: National Gallery of Art (2004).

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