Rise to Henry Tate: A great British in the history of the National Gallery

In 1889, Henry Tate wrote to the National Gallery offering 65 paintings to the nation. However the man asked the Gallery that the works, all by British artists should be shown in their own room. They due to reject this offer because of a lack of place. But they were inspired to start planning a gallery dedicated to British art. 

An anonymous donor offered £80,000 towards the cost of an edifice such a museum, so they could approve the site, following they found the anonymous donor was Henry Tate!

Several sites were proposed with locations but it’s in 1852, they chose the derelict Millbank Prison, described By Charles Dickens in “David Copperfield”.

The National Gallery opened in 1897 with just ten rooms and 245 pictures and has adopted the nickname 35 years later of Tate. An architect unearthed and reinstalled dome of Smith’s original details as the balcony which is opens to visitors since 1920.

Unfortunately, on 7 January 1928, the Gallery lost 18 paintings but could save the most of the works. The Thames burst its banks and nine of the Tate’s basement galleries were submerged under eight feet of freezing water.

An other worse threat came in 1939 during Wold War II. Some of the paintings were moved but the museum itself was hit by a bomb. We can still look the blast damage on the wall.

However, the Tate reopened in 1946 after the end of the War and in 1960 a remodelling of the building was proposed. The museum was extended when its international collection moved to Tate Modern in 2000. 

Now, The National is a national treasure.

Thank Henry Tate!


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