The Full Wiki

Dulwich Picture Gallery: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dulwich Picture Gallery
Established 1817
Location Dulwich, London
Website Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery is an art gallery in Dulwich, London. It was built by Sir John Soane as England's first purpose-built public art gallery and opened in 1817. The Gallery is a registered charity.


History of the collection

The Dulwich collection was first put together by Sir Francis Bourgeois (1753–1811), originally from Switzerland, and his business partner, Frenchman Noël Desenfans. The two ran a successful art dealership in London and in 1790 were commissioned by the King of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus, to put together a "royal collection", which the monarch lacked and thought would encourage fine arts in Poland. Touring around Europe buying fine art, Bourgeois and Desenfans took five years to put the collection together, but by 1795 Poland had been partitioned — divided up by its stronger neighbours — and no longer existed.

Bourgeois and Desenfans attempted to sell the collection to other nations but were unsuccessful and instead sold small pieces to fund the purchase of further important works, keeping the collection in London. After the death of Desenfans in 1807, Bourgeois contacted the British Museum about bequeathing the collection on his own death, but was put off by the attitude of the Museum's trustees. Upon Sir Francis Bourgeois's death in 1811, he bequeathed the collection to Dulwich College (then part of a larger charity, Alleyn's College of God's Gift) and Dulwich Picture Gallery was founded by the terms of his will.

A major addition to the collection came in 1835, when William Linley — last of a musical and theatrical family — bequeathed his collection of family portraits to the gallery on his death.

In 1966 eight paintings were stolen; three by Rembrandt, three by Rubens and one each by Gerrit Dou and Adam Elsheimer. They were worth at the time about £4.5 million in total but a reward of just £1,000 was offered for their return. The paintings were recovered a few days later in an investigation led by Detective-superintendent Charles Hewett, who had previously investigated suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams. Michael Hall, an unemployed ambulance driver, was the only one of the thieves caught and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.[1]

Rembrandt's small early Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III has been stolen and recovered four times, most recently in 1983, and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most frequently stolen artwork in the world. It has variously been recovered from a left-luggage office in West Germany in 1986; returned anonymously; found on the back of a bicycle; and discovered under a bench in a graveyard in nearby Streatham. The painting is now closely guarded by an upgraded security system, and is so well-known in the art world that it would be impossible to re-sell.

In 1995 a major reorganisation of the historic Alleyn's College charity resulted in the reconstitution of Dulwich Picture Gallery as an independent registered charity.[2]

History of the building

Dulwich Picture Gallery interior

When Bourgeois died in 1811 bequeathing his collection, the terms of his will stated that a new museum was to be built by his friend, the architect Sir John Soane, which would house the collection and would be open to the public. It also left £2,000 for construction costs.

Soane's clear design and basic architecture of a series of interlinked rooms lit by natural light through overhead skylights has been the primary influence on art gallery design ever since. The Dulwich College Picture Gallery (as it was named at the time) opened its doors in 1817. Soane designed the sky lights to illuminate the paintings indirectly, and gave us one the great small galleries in which to look at oil paintings. Indeed, the influential C20th architect Philip Johnson said of the space: "Soane has taught us how to display paintings.".

Bourgeois and Desenfans, along with Desenfans' wife, who funded part of their work, are buried in a mausoleum at the centre of the west wing of the museum. Alms houses constructed by Soane along the west side of the gallery were converted into exhibition space by Charles Barry, Jr. in 1880 and an eastward extension was built to designs by E S Hall between 1908 and 1938.

The mausoleum and west wing galleries were badly damaged by a German V1 flying bomb on 12 July, 1944, during World War II; apparently, the bones were scattered across the lawn in front of the gallery. The three sarcophagi in the mausoleum now once again contain approximately a skeleton each, but nobody was quite sure which bones were whose. The buildings were refurbished by Austin Vernon and Partners, and re-opened by HM The Queen Mother on 27 April 1953.[3]

A modern extension designed by Rick Mather was built in 1999, adding a café, educational facilities, a lecture theatre, a new entrance and glazed walkway, and joining the building to the chapel and offices of Alleyn's College. Parts of Soane's original design were also restored, having been changed during previous extensions. This latest refurbishment was opened by HM The Queen on 25 May 2000.[4]

The collection

Dulwich Picture Gallery houses a small but select collection of European old master paintings mostly of the 1600s and 1700s, many of the highest quality.[5] It also hosts small but often significant temporary exhibitions.


Rembrandt van Rijn — A Young man, perhaps the Artist's Son Titus (1663)

Dutch School

English School

Flemish School

French School

Italian School

Spanish School

2009/10 exhibitions

"The Polish Connection"
16 June - 27 September 2009
In 1790 the last King of Poland commissioned two art dealers to buy paintings for a National Collection of Poland. However, the king was forced to abdicate and the works became the collection at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Spectacular state portraits, on loan from Poland, of King Stanislaw, will be shown for the first time in the UK.

"The Best of British"
8 July - 27 September
Dulwich Picture Gallery will be exhibiting paintings from its newly catalogued British collection, many of which are not usually on show.

"Drawing Attention: Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Van Gogh, Picasso and more. Master Drawings from the Art Gallery of Ontario"
21 October - 17 January 2010
The Art Gallery of Ontario has put together a great collection of drawings. This group of a hundred of its best works ranges from Renaissance Italy to modern times. It includes Guercino, Bucher, Gainsborough, Ingres, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Turner, Leger, De Koonig, and Canada's remarkable Tom Thomson.

"Desperately Seeking Conservation"
A display of rarely seen Gallery paintings in need of conservation.

"Paul Nash:The Elements"
9 February - 10 May 2010

2008/9 exhibitions

The Phoenix of All Flower Painters

26 June 2008 – 30 September 2008

Praised by Arnold Houbraken for having ‘come far closer to nature’ than the previous generation of still-life painters, Jan van Huysum is arguably one of the most famous Dutch painters in art history.

Painting Family: The De Brays, Master Painters of 17th Century Holland[6]

9 July 2008 – 5 October 2008

Little known now, the De Bray family (Salomon de Bray and Jan de Bray) were master portraitists of the 17th Century Dutch Golden Age.

What Are You Like?[7]

9 September 2008 – 18 January 2009

A collaboration between The House of Illustration[8] and Dulwich Picture Gallery brings together an eclectic group of public figures, each contributing a 'self-portrait' composed of their favourite things

Saul Steinberg: Illuminations

26 November 2008 – 15 February 2009

A first for Dulwich Picture Gallery and England, featuring a retrospective collection of more than 100 works by the Romanian born American artist and satirist whose work was in the pages of the New Yorker magazine for six decades.

Sickert In Venice

4 March 2009 - 7 June 2009

Walter Richard Sickert was one of the most important British artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[9]


Friends association

The Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery play an essential role in the life and work of the Gallery. They are independent of the Gallery and raise funds to support the exhibitions programme and specific projects. Many of the Gallery's most popular events — concerts, lectures, dinners, visits, etc. — are organised by the Friends. Dulwich OnView is an associated online community that has grown out of the Friends.[10]


Ian A.C. Dejardin is the currect Director of the gallery since 2005.[11][12] From 1996 to 2005, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, now Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, was the Director.

See also


  1. ^ Hugh McLeave, Rogues in the Gallery: The Modern Plague of Art Thefts, C&M Online Media, Inc. ISBN:091799082X
  2. ^ Dulwich Picture Gallery, Registered Charity no. 1040942 at the Charity Commission
  3. ^ "Russell Vernon". The Telegraph. 07 September 2009.  
  4. ^ Worsley, Giles (23 May 2000). "Overhauled but understated". The Telegraph.  
  5. ^ Jones, Jonathan (03 August 2009). "Arcadian fire: how British art fell in love with the pastoral: Two new shows, in Nottingham and London, reveal how artists such as Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely and Paul Sandby depicted a golden Britain even as the country sank into turmoil". The Observer.  
  6. ^ Darwent, Charles (17 August 2008). "Painting Family: The de Brays Dulwich Picture Gallery London". The Independent.  
  7. ^ Adams, Stephen (09 September 2008). "Celebrity artists paint their favourite things". The Telegraph.  
  8. ^ The House of Illustration.
  9. ^ Russell, Ken (March 31, 2009). "Sickert in Venice at the Dulwich Picture Gallery". The Times.  
  10. ^ Who We Are, Dulwich OnView.
  11. ^ Ingrid Beazley, What Are YOU Like, Ian Dejardin, Director of DPG?, Dulwich OnView, November 25, 2008.
  12. ^ Ian Dejardin, ZoomInfo Business People Information.

External links

Coordinates: 51°26′46″N 0°05′11″W / 51.44611°N 0.08639°W / 51.44611; -0.08639

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address