Celebrating a Milestone: 75 Years of the National Gallery of Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, VI: Presenting the Kress Collection: Restoration and Framing
Elizabeth Walmsley, painting conservator, National Gallery of Art, and Steve Wilcox, senior conservator of frames, National Gallery of Art. When the National Gallery of Art opened its doors in March 1941, the original Andrew W. Mellon gift was augmented by a collection of Italian art donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Kress was the first to offer a donation in response to Andrew Mellon's call for contributions for the new national art museum. For the Gallery's opening, Kress gave almost 400 paintings and sculptures. Ultimately, the foundation gave the Gallery a total of over 700 paintings and sculptures, in addition to over 1,300 small bronzes, medals, and plaquettes. In 2010, the foundation awarded the Gallery a grant to conduct provenance research on the entire Kress collection of paintings, distributed nationwide to regional museums and study collections in university-affiliated institutions. In this paired lecture by Elizabeth Walmsley and Steve Wilcox recorded on May 23, 2016, discussion spans the history and role of the restoration of paintings before their purchase by Kress to the early formation of his collection. For paintings that became part of the Kress “giveaway,” antique frames were acquired and new frames made for the enhancement and protection of works. This program celebrates the 75-year relationship of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the National Gallery of Art, the enduring legacy of the Kress gifts nationwide, and recent research into the Kress Collection. This program is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Provenance Research Project.