The National Gallery has today announced that on 22 March 2017 it will open Gallery B to the public.
This will be the first new gallery space created at the National Gallery in 26 years.
Gallery B – which was designed by architects Purcell – adds an additional 200 square metres of display space to the main Wilkins Building and opens up the ground floor.
This creates a direct public route from the Trafalgar Square entrance through to Orange Street (at the rear of the Gallery).
For the first time, visitors can now explore all of the Ground Floor Galleries and progress up to the Main Floor whilst enjoying a continuous viewing experience.
It is intended that these now inter-connected galleries will host a wide range of Education programme activities along with National Gallery Collection special displays and exhibitions.
The opening of the new Gallery B also marks the extended viewing hours of Gallery A, previously open only every Wednesday afternoon (and one Sunday per month) to being open daily.
Gallery B opens with Rubens and Rembrandt, a special collection display of paintings by the Flemish artist Rubens hung opposite works by his Dutch counterpart, Rembrandt, creating a dynamic visual dialogue between these two great 17th-century masters.
The innovative hang demonstrates the potential of this new gallery space for exceptional displays that offer different ways of exploring the National Gallery Collection.
Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said:
“Gallery B is the first new gallery to open since the Sainsbury Wing was inaugurated in 1991. It provides the setting for an original display of works by two of the National Gallery’s titans, Rubens and Rembrandt.”
Though the two masters probably never met in person, their works meet face-to-face in this inaugural hang of Gallery B, which includes nine works by Rubens and 11 paintings by Rembrandt from the National Gallery’s extensive collection of Dutch and Flemish art.
Both Rubens and Rembrandt were prolific artists, who produced works of great sensitivity and emotional charge.
Indeed, it has been argued that Rembrandt was influenced by Rubens‘ remarkable artistry and personal charisma in forming his own identity within the grand lineage of master painters.
An avid collector, it is recorded that Rembrandt later owned a painting by Rubens.
This new installation testifies to the breadth of these two artists’ careers, whose bodies of work encompassed history paintings, landscapes, portraiture and more.
Additionally, dynamic drawings by contemporary painter Frank Auerbach, inspired by the works of Rembrandt and Rubens, will be on view in the Gallery B Lobby and the Espresso Bar.
Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, Betsy Wieseman, said:
“The arrangement of paintings in the main floor galleries is for the most part divided by national schools. The new gallery space presents an exciting opportunity to display together paintings by two great masters from neighbouring countries with diverging artistic traditions. This Gallery B display will enable the visitor to make their own comparisons, and as a result to view the achievements of these two artists – whose work is so well represented in the National Gallery – in an entirely new way.”
This new gallery space has been created with the support of the Wolfson Foundation.