What to see this week: The Sains­bury Wing at the Na­tional Gallery

Country Life Every Week - - Athena -

This year is the 25th an­niver­sary of the open­ing of the Sains­bury Wing (left) at the Na­tional Gallery in Lon­don WC2. De­signed by Ven­turi Scott Brown and As­so­ciates, it was pur­pose-built to dis­play the early-re­nais­sance col­lec­tion. The con­struc­tion of the wing was the cul­mi­na­tion of a long-run­ning con­tro­versy about the re­de­vel­op­ment of the site and the ar­chi­tec­tural char­ac­ter of any new build­ing there. The Mod­ernist pro­pos­als for an ex­ten­sion were fa­mously frus­trated in 1984 with the in­ter­ven­tion of The Prince of Wales.

On this an­niver­sary, it’s in­ter­est­ing to re­flect on the rel­a­tive suc­cess of this build­ing and the cool clar­ity with which it presents the pre-1500 col­lec­tion. Athena would per­haps like to see some of the gold-ground paint­ings more dra­mat­i­cally pre­sented, but this is a quib­ble. Over­all, it’s now hard to imag­ine the Na­tional Gallery with­out the Sains­bury Wing.

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