16/07/2010

THE TATE GALLERY AT MILLBANK...

Tate Britain at Millbank in London
The sugar refiner Henry Tate left the nation a lasting legacy. Being a very generous man, he donated much to hospitals, libraries and colleges. But, he also offered his art to the nation, a collection which largely consisted of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, including Ophelia by Millais, and The Doctor by Sir Luke Fildes - the story of which can be found within this link. 
The Doctor by Sir Luke Fildes

Henry had proposed supplying a gallery in which to locate his ‘Tate Collection’ alongside other valued British art to be displayed in one united space. The National Gallery refused to house it, on the grounds that it did not have the room but the government worked with an anonymous donor (later discovered to be Tate himself) who offered £80,000 towards a new building’s construction.  A site was provided by demolishing the Millbank Penitentiary and the government also agreed to support all costs of subsequent administration. Sidney R J Smith’s design was approved and the new building opened in 1897 with 245 pictures on show, but the development continued to expand with a further nine galleries added by 1899.
Smith's early design for the gallery
Early floorplans
An illustration of crowds at the National Gallery of British Art as seen in the Daily Graphic

It was officially named The National Gallery of British Art – the popular ‘Tate Gallery’ not being formally recognised until 1932. It employed 25 members of staff – a keeper, a clerk, 5 attendants, 4 porters, 1 messenger, 6 housemaids, 6 policemen and 1 sergeant.
For his services to art and the nation Henry Tate was made a baronet though sadly he died the following year in the December of 1899. But his legacy endures and the galleries continue to thrive and expand with Tate Britain in Millbank, Tate Modern in Bankside, Tate Liverpool, and Tate Saint Ives.
For further information, see the Tate Britain official site.

1 comment:

  1. Some collectors try and control the gift to the nation, even after their death. Like Dr A Barnes in Pennsylvania, they stipulate that no other paintings are to come into the public gallery, other than their own. That no chair, painting or vase can ever be moved. But Henry Tate didn't seem like that.

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