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Celebrating "National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection"

Alan Shestack, deputy director and chief curator; Philip Conisbee, senior curator of European paintings; John O. Hand, curator of Northern Renaissance paintings, Kimberly Jones, assistant curator of French paintings, National Gallery of Art. In honor of the publication of National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection, contributing authors share highlights from this new survey of the Gallery's European and American paintings collection. Despite the Gallery's short history, opening to the public in 1941, its collection spans 600 years, from middle ages to the present, and includes some of the greatest masterpieces in Western art history. Most of the masterpieces were given by the Founding Benefactors and their families. It has been the Gallery's mission to supplement these gifts with acquisitions that present Western paintings in as broad and comprehensive a manner as possible. The first collection survey was published by then-director John Walker in 1975, which was revised and reprinted in 1984. In this program recorded on December 4, 2004, the new survey is revealed- 400 master paintings are chosen from 3,000, and 1 of 4 works were acquired since the 1984 survey. Collecting is tempered by its time and a particular point of view, and this new publication showcases master paintings in the Gallery's collection as measured from the present moment.