Celebrating a Milestone: 75 Years of the National Gallery of Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, V: History Revealed: The Kress Collection of Historic Images
Melissa Beck Lemke, image specialist for Italian art, 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 lecture recorded on May 23, 2016, Melissa Beck Lemke reveals the history of Kress collection objects through documents, lantern slides, negatives, and photographs preserved in the Gallery’s department of image collections. The images were made throughout the 20th century and illustrate Kress’s collecting practices, as well as cleanings, restorations, and display of the individual objects. 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.