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The National Gallery of Art at 75: Andrew W. Mellon, David Finley, Paul Mellon

David A. Doheny, former general counsel, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and author, David Finley: Quiet Force for America's Arts. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, which opened in March 1941, David A. Doheny reassesses the work of its three principal creators—Andrew W. Mellon (1855–1937), David Finley (1890-1977), and Paul Mellon (1907-1999). Andrew Mellon provided its vision, the funds to build and endow it, and his superb art collection to act as a nucleus of a national gallery before his death. David Finley was his principal deputy in this enterprise from its conception in 1927 onward. Paul Mellon was appointed a trustee of the Gallery in 1937 and had a harmonious working relationship with Finley. After the deaths of both Andrew W. Mellon and his architect John Russell Pope within 24 hours of each other, Finley took charge of completing the design and construction of the West Building. Finley was also instrumental in securing important collections for the Gallery, including those of Samuel H. Kress, Joseph E. Widener, Lessing J. Rosenwald, and Chester Dale. In this lecture recorded on April 10, 2016, Doheny uses Finley’s published writings and personal journals to provide insights into his relationships with the Mellons.

Released: May 24, 2016