New Gallery (London)

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Central Hall of the New Gallery, from the catalogue New Gallery Notes, Summer 1888.

The New Gallery was an art gallery founded at 121 Regent Street W., London, in 1888 by J. Comyns Carr and Charles Edward Hallé. Carr and Hallé had been co-directors of Sir Coutts Lindsay's Grosvenor Gallery, but resigned from that troubled gallery in 1887.

The building[edit]

The New Gallery was designed by Edward Robert Robson FSA, and constructed in little more than three months to ensure that it could open in the summer of 1888.[1][2]

The gallery was built on the site of an old fruit market.[3] Existing cast-iron columns supporting the roof were encased with marble to give the impression of "massive marble shafts" topped with gilded Greek capitals. The architrave, frieze, and cornices above the columns were covered with platinum leaf.[1] At the opening, the West and North Galleries on the ground floor were devoted to oil paintings, and the first floor balcony around the Central Hall displayed smaller works in oils, watercolours, etchings and drawings. Sculpture was displayed in the Central Hall itself.[1]

Artists and exhibitions[edit]

The New Gallery continued the ideals of the Grosvenor, and was an important venue for Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic movement artists. Edward Burne-Jones, then at the height of his popularity, supported the new venture, serving on its Consulting Committee and lending three large oils for the opening, thus ensuring its financial success. Lawrence Alma-Tadema and William Holman Hunt also joined the Consulting Committee,[3] and George Frederic Watts and Lord Leighton transferred their loyalty to the New Gallery.[2]

The private view of the first exhibition was held on Tuesday, 8 May 1888, and the exhibition opened to the public on Wednesday, 9 May, for three months.[1] The private view was a great social success, with former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone among the early arrivals.[3]

In October and November 1888,[4] the New Gallery hosted the first showcase of industrial and applied arts by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society under the direction of its founding president, illustrator and designer Walter Crane.[5] No attempt had been made to show contemporary decorative arts in London since the Grosvenor Gallery's Winter Exhibition of 1881, which included cartoons for mosaic, tapestry, and glass, and the Society's annual (later triennial) exhibitions at the New Gallery were important events in the Arts and Crafts Movement at the end of the 19th century.[6][7]

The New Gallery was the setting for a major Burne-Jones retrospective in 1892–93 and a memorial exhibition of his works in 1898.[8] In 1893 the New Gallery exposed for the first time four panels by Masaccio, later attributed to the Pisa Polyptych (now in Staatliche Museen, Berlin).[9]

Carr continued as co-director until 1908. The Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1910 was the last to be held at the New Gallery,[10] which briefly became the New Gallery Restaurant in 1910, and was remodeled again and opened as a cinema in January 1913.[11][12]

Other uses for the building[edit]

In 1910, the interior was converted into a restaurant,The New Gallery Restaurant,but it was converted again in 1913, this time to a cinema. Enlargement and modifications were made to the cinema in 1925, including the installation of a Wurlizer organ. It was the location of the UK showing of the first full-length animated cartoon, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1938.

When the need for West End cinema was reduced the building was sold to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was used as a church from 1953 until the 1990s, although the cinema was occasionally used for religious films. It remained empty until 2006, when it became a Habitat furniture store. The Wurlitzer organ remained in place and was restored to its original condition.[13]

Habitat surrendered the lease in March 2011, and the site will become part of a flagship store for Burberry.[14]

The New Gallery Cinema is a Grade II Listed building.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d New Gallery Notes No. 1
  2. ^ a b Wildman, p. 198
  3. ^ a b c Wildman, p. 268
  4. ^ Ann MacEwen, Ernest Radford and the First Arts and Crafts Exhibition 1888
  5. ^ Parry 1989, p. 12–13
  6. ^ Crane, "Of the Arts and Crafts Movement"
  7. ^ Parry 2005, pp. 71, 76
  8. ^ Wildman, pp. 33, 319
  9. ^ John T. Spike, Masaccio, Rizzoli libri illustrati, Milano 2002 ISBN 88-7423-007-9
  10. ^ Parry 2005, p. 89
  11. ^ "121 Regent Street". Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  12. ^ "New Gallery Cinema". Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  13. ^ Cinema Organs Society - Regent Street Habitat
  14. ^ Mayfair offices purchased by Burberry for statement store - 28 March 2011 accessed 25 June 2011

References[edit]

  • Blackburn, Henry (May 1888). New Gallery Notes No. 1. Chatto and Windus. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  • Crane, Walter (1905). "Of the Arts and Crafts Movement". Ideals In Art: Papers Theoretical Practical Critical. George Bell & Sons. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  • Parry, Linda: Textiles of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Thames and Hudson, revised edition 2005, ISBN 0-500-28536-5.
  • Parry, Linda, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement: A Sourcebook, New York, Portland House, 1989, ISBN 0-517-69260-0.
  • Wildman, Stephen: Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998, ISBN 0870998595.

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′38″N 0°08′20″W / 51.5106°N 0.1390°W / 51.5106; -0.1390