Artists / National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art has one of the finest art collections in the world. It was created for the people of the United States of America by a joint resolution of Congress accepting the gift of financier, public servant, and art collector Andrew W. Mellon in 1937. European and American paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, and decorative arts are displayed in the collection galleries and Sculpture Garden. The permanent collection of paintings spans from the Middle Ages to the present day. The strongest collection is the Italian Renaissance collection, which includes two panels from Duccios Maesta, the great tondo of the Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi, a Botticelli on the same subject, Giorgiones Allendale Nativity, Giovanni Bellinis The Feast of the Gods, the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Americas, Ginevra de Benci; and significant groups of works by Titian and Raphael. However, the other European collections include examples of the work of many of the great masters of western painting, including an important version of Saint Martin and the Beggar, by El Greco, and works by Matthias Grünewald, Cranach the Elder, Rogier van der Weyden, Albrecht Dürer, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Francisco Goya, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and Eugène Delacroix, among others. The collection of sculpture and decorative arts is admittedly not quite as rich as this, but includes such works as the Chalice of Abbot Suger of St-Denis and a superb collection of work by Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas. Other highlights of the permanent collection include the second of the two original sets of Thomas Coles famous series of paintings titled The Voyage of Life, (the first set is at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York) and the original version of Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley (two other versions are in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Detroit Institute of Arts).
The National Gallery’s print collection comprises 75,000 prints, in addition to rare illustrated books. It includes collections of works by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, William Blake, Mary Cassatt, Edvard Munch, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. The collection began with 400 prints donated by five collectors in 1941. In 1942, Joseph E. Widener donated his entire collection of nearly 2,000 works. In 1943, Lessing Rosenwald donated his collection of 8,000 old master and modern prints; between 1943 and 1979, he donated almost 14,000 more works. In 2008, Dave and Reba White Williams donated their collection of more than 5,200 American prints.