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London National Gallery: In the Eyes of a Curator with Dr. Thomas Dalla Costa
Located on the north side of Trafalgar Square, in the borough of Westminster, the London National Gallery houses Great Britain’s national collection of European paintings. The National Gallery was founded in 1824 when the British government bought a collection of 38 paintings from the estate of the merchant, businessman, and fine arts collector John Julius Angerstein.
This interactive conversation will be structured in three parts. In the first, we will find out more about the history of the collection and the outstanding Neoclassical building which hosts it. In the second part our expert, a former curator at the National Gallery, will guide us through some of its most impressive holdings of works– namely paintings by Leonardo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, Turner, Gainsborough, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. During our third and final portion of the conversation, Dr. Dalla Costa will provide insider tips about the National Gallery and its surroundings: when we should visit it, what else can be visited in central London (such as the nearby National Portrait Gallery; the British Museum; or the Wallace Collection), but also where to eat and have a relaxing break after our future visits to the museum.
Thanks to generous acquisitions, gifts, and bequests, the collection has grown exponentially since its foundation – it now comprises about 2,600 works – and although it is not as numerically extensive as other collections, it is regarded as one of the most representative and notable samplings of European paintings in the world. It has the most comprehensive collection of Italian Renaissance paintings outside Italy, with artworks by most of the greatest Florentine, Venetian, and North Italian masters of that period. Moreover, it has impressive holdings of works by painters of every Western European school (German, Dutch, Flemish, French, Spanish, and British) from the 15th to the 19th century. Indeed, the museum has also a small but remarkable collection of French Impressionist and Postimpressionist paintings.
Led by the art historian and curator Thomas Dalla Costa – who worked at the National Gallery as a curator from February 2019 to December 2020 and was the Assistant Curator of the groundbreaking exhibition "Titian: Love, Desire, Death” (The National Gallery, London, March-December 2020) – this seminar will reveal the deeper historical contexts of the National Gallery's the formation, the growth of its collection, and will also guide participants through some of its most striking artworks.
Thomas Dalla Costa holds a PhD in Art History from Verona University. He is a specialist in Italian Renaissance Art, in particular on Sixteenth-century Venetian paintings and drawings. In 2014 he was Assistant Curator for the exhibition ""Paolo Veronese. L’illusione della realtà"" (held in Verona, July-October 2014). In 2015 he was Post-doctoral Researcher at Verona University, with a project on Titian’s celebrated series of Venus and Adonis. The outcome of this research has been recently published in a book (Venice, April 2019). As a Research Fellow for Save Venice Inc., he edited a book on Jacopo Tintoretto (Venice, 2018), and contributed to the research for the exhibition ""Tintoretto 1519-2019"" (Venice, September 2018-January 2019) and ""Tintoretto. Artist of Renaissance Venice"" (Washington, March-July 2019).
In 2017 Thomas curated the exhibition ""Venezia Rinascimento: Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese"" (Moscow, June-August 2018). Between February 2019 and December 2020 he was Curatorial Fellow at the National Gallery in London, where he assisted the curator of the exhibition ""Titian. Love, Desire, Death"" (March-December 2020). He has published a number of articles on Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese’s workshop. He has a strong interest in the artists’ creative process, and the pivotal role of drawings to Venetian Renaissance workshops.