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David Finley, Andrew Mellon, and the Founding of the National Gallery

David A. Doheny, lawyer and former general counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In this podcast recorded on June 17, 2006, David A. Doheny presents a lecture in conjunction with the publication of his book, David Finley: Quiet Force for America's Arts. Doheny discusses the relationship between Andrew W. Mellon and David E. Finley Jr., the National Gallery of Art's first director. Finley played an influential role in Mellon's acquisition of works from the Italian Renaissance, in particular the 1936 purchase of 30 paintings and 24 sculptures from Lord Joseph Duveen. In January 1937, Mellon formally presented to President Roosevelt his proposal to create the National Gallery of Art for the American public. On March 24, 1937, an act of Congress accepted Mellon's art collection as well as funds for the museum and approved plans for an elegant building on the National Mall designed by John Russell Pope. When Mellon and Pope both died within a day of each other later that year, Finley oversaw the construction and completion of the Gallery. Finley was also responsible for acquiring important collections for the Gallery, including those of Samuel H. Kress, Joseph E. Widener, Chester Dale, and Lessing J. Rosenwald.