Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies

Sin, Incest, Satanism in the National Gallery?

The History of National Gallery

‘In 1831 Parliament agreed to construct a building for the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. There had been lengthy discussion about the best site for the Gallery, and Trafalgar Square was eventually chosen as it was considered to be at the very centre of London. The new building finally opened in 1838.’

History – About the Building

‘With a commitment to free admission, a central and accessible site, and extended opening hours the Gallery has ensured that its collection can be enjoyed by the widest public possible, and not become the exclusive preserve of the privileged.’

History – About the Building

And so the National Gallery was formed by the Government to provide a space for free education, no matter of social class or economic boundaries.

Online Presence

The National Gallery obviously has the famous London location yet in modern times, the galleries artworks are available to a much wider audience via its online presence. Their website enables viewers from all over the world to access and educate themselves or artworks, with a few clicks on the internet. Due to this modern fenominon the ideology of providing free education, no matter of social class/ economic boundaries lives on today.

With the amazing access to the gallery and its online resources, staying up to date on exhibitions and artistic events has never been easier and its all down to the Parliament of 1831 wanting to provide the gift of education.

Providing the Gallery Service

Yet with this amazing access and facilities brings great pressure to the people who provide this service. Resulting in the role of Director, ‘with the responsibility to shape the collection and manage the Gallery.’

“The Director has responsibility, under the Board, for the overall organisation, management, and staffing of the Gallery and for its procedures in financial and other matters, including conduct and discipline.”

Current responsibilities of the Director from the Trustees Handbook

There has been a long list of 15 directors since the role began to present day. The current Direction of the National Gallery is Dr Gabriele Finaldi.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi

Dr Gabriele Finaldi has had lots of experience in exhibitions and art, curating exhibitions all over the world. As well as writing historical academic resources on artwork in general. Meaning that the organisation of exhibitions and the art placements are academically constructed. Forming the best outcome to reflect the artists work as well as being visually appealing to the viewing audience.

As well as the role of Director for the museum, curators have a huge impact on the exhibitions within the gallery. The role of curators is to use informed thinking to position the artworks of a particular exhibition, enhancing the artists work and the overall outcome of the display.

‘Sin’ Exhibition

7th October 2020 – 3rd January 2021

The National Gallery isn’t afraid to exhibit controversial ideas ‘The first exhibition in the UK exploring sin in art will be staged at the National Gallery this autumn.’

‘Sin will bring together paintings from the National Gallery’s collection dating from the 16th to the 18th century with loans from important private and public collections including modern and contemporary works by Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, and Ron Mueck. There will be 14 works on display.’

This particular exhibition is available to view from the 7th October 2020 to the 3rd January 2021, in Trafalgar Square, London. Yet it is also available to view online and well as press-releases that are available online. Which is great for me currently as I am not able to travel to the gallery but I can still learn about the exhibition and get an online experience.

‘Sin’ invites visitors to reflect on a fundamental concept that pervades our lives and history, but also to marvel at the ingenious ways artists have addressed the subject across time.’

Dr Joost Joustra, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Research Curator

This particular exhibition explores a wide range of debateable concepts, you only have to look at ‘An Allegory with Venus and Cupid by Bronzino, which is featured in the collection. This painting is very controversial and has a range of disturbing themes to the modern day critic, such as ‘Sin’, ‘Incest’ and ‘Satanism’.

An Allegory with Venus and Cupid by Bronzino

Yet when curated in a particular way by historically, religiously informed individuals. It allows the combination of art to bring forth debates and learning, whether viewed online or in person. Reflecting the original 1831 purpose of the gallery to provide a space for free education, no matter of social class or economic boundaries.


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