A Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome
European Sculpture in the National Gallery Collection
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A Legacy of Cultural Exchange
The West Building Rotunda of the National Gallery of Art.
Photograph © Dennis Brack / Black Star. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
From its inception, the National Gallery of Art has been inspired and influenced by the Italian tradition in art and architecture. Beginning with founder Andrew W. Mellon's collection as the nucleus of its holdings and later augmented by the Samuel H. Kress and Joseph Widener collections, the Gallery's permanent collection of Italian paintings is regarded as the most important in the United States. It is complemented by noted collections of Italian sculpture and drawings. Among its many masterpieces, the collection boasts the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas: Ginevra de' Benci (c. 1474/1478).
The West Building's Rotunda is an appropriate setting for this Italian work. The architect of the West Building, John Russell Pope, was trained at the American Academy in Rome and was deeply influenced by classical Italian architecture, believing that it perfectly expressed the American ideals of democracy and humanism. The grand, Italianate Rotunda itself was modeled after the ancient Pantheon in Rome, and Italian stone is prominent throughout.
From its founding democratic ideals to its art and architecture, America—and specifically Washington, DC—have long drawn inspiration from Italian culture and principles. As the nation's art museum, the National Gallery of Art's rich history of preserving Italian culture reflects the United States' longstanding ties to Italy. Michelangelo's David-Apollo follows in the Gallery's long tradition of more than 80 international loan exhibitions that have brought the art of Italy from abroad to be showcased in the nation's capital.
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will remain closed for approximately three years for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For specific updates on gallery closings, visit http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/modern-art-during-renovation.html.
For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery's Web site at www.nga.gov. Follow the Gallery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalGalleryofArt and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ngadc.
Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
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