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