“… modern museums have become a branch of showbusiness…”*

*complaint by Roy Strong, a former director of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

From Wikipedia:

“The three people largely responsible for the founding of the National Portrait Gallery are commemorated with busts over the main entrance. At centre is Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope, with his supporters on either side, Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (to Stanhope’s left) and Thomas Carlyle (to Stanhope’s right). It was Stanhope who, in 1846 as a Member of Parliament (MP), first proposed the idea of a National Portrait Gallery. It was not until his third attempt, in 1856, this time from the House of Lords, that the proposal was accepted. With Queen Victoria’s approval, the House of Commons set aside a sum of £2000 to establish the gallery. As well as Stanhope and Macaulay, the founder Trustees included Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Ellesmere. It was the latter who donated the Chandos portrait to the nation as the gallery’s first portrait. Carlyle became a trustee after the death of Ellesmere in 1857…”

From Historic England entry:

“Public art gallery. 1890-95 by Ewan Christian and J.K. Colling. Portland stone, slate, lead and glazed roofs. Freely composed Italian Renaissance design. 2 main storeys, basement and upper top lit galleries. 9 windows wide north front. The entrance is in short return with projecting lower pedimented entrance block picturesquely set on stepped angle of corner, semicircular arched doorway with Royal Arms carved in tympanum; short pilasters and portrait medallions above. The main north front has rusticated ground floor with square headed plate glass windows, upper floor with paired square headed windows, divided by granite shafts with distinctly Early English capitals, set beneath semicircular arches framing portrait medallions. String courses, cornice and deep parapet. The shallow south wing completes the east elevation of the National Gallery with giant engaged columns to bowed centre and Grecian pilasters to end pavilions, accounting for Grade I listing. West Duveen wing restrained ashlar addition of 1933 by the Office of Works. Ornate cast iron area railings. Interiors altered apart from staircase.”


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