The Treasure Houses of Britain

500 Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting

November 3, 1985 – April 13, 1986

East Building Upper Level


Overview: 700 art objects from more than 200 country houses in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland illustrated 500 years of British collecting from the 15th century to the present. 17 period rooms were constructed to display the objects. This was the largest and most complicated exhibition undertaken to date by the National Gallery. Gervase Jackson-Stops, architectural advisor to the National Trust of Great Britain, chose paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, Anthony van Dyck, Canaletto, and John Singer Sargent; sculpture by Praxiteles, Canova, and Henry Moore; furniture by Kent and Chippendale; Meissen, Sèvres, Chelsea, and Oriental porcelain; and drawings, tapestries, jewelry, armor, silver, and other decorative arts.

Organization: Jackson-Stops structured and selected the exhibition with Gaillard Ravenel and Mark Leithauser. Ravenel, Leithauser, and Jackson-Stops designed the exhibition to reflect each period of collecting, and Gordon Anson designed the lighting.

Sponsor: The exhibition, organized in conjunction with the British Council after 6 years of preparation, was made possible by a grant from Ford Motor Company, special funding from the 98th Congress, indemnities from Her Majesty's Treasury and the United States Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, and by British Airways.

Attendance: 990,474

Catalog: The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

Brochure: The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, by Gervase Jackson-Stops, edited by William J. Williams. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1985.