Philip Hendy

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Sir Philip Anstiss Hendy (27 September 1900 – 6 September 1980) was a British art curator who worked both in Britain and overseas, notably the United States. In 1923 he began his career in art administration as an Assistant Keeper and lecturer at the Wallace Collection in London, despite his having no formal training in art history. His entries for the Wallace Collection's new catalogue and articles for The Burlington Magazine so impressed the administration of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts that the trustees of the museum agreed to fund Hendy's three year stay in Italy, during which he compiled the Gardner catalogue.

From the Gardner Museum Hendy went on to curate the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1930, where he spent his budget of $10,000 on works by modern European masters including Georges Braque, Gino Severini and Walter Sickert. In 1933 Hendy resigned from the Museum of Fine Arts after a quarrel with the trustees who disapproved of his purchase of Matisse's 1903 nude Carmelina. Returning to Britain, he was appointed director of the Leeds City Art Gallery in 1934.

The threat posed to Leeds during the Second World War caused the gallery's works of art to be evacuated to a more rural setting in Temple Newsam House. The task of relocation, and the subsequent rehanging of the paintings in their new 18th-century surroundings, was undertaken by Hendy, whose work there caught the attention of the Director of the National Gallery, Kenneth Clark. Clark, who had similarly overseen the removal of the National Gallery pictures to safety in a North Wales quarry during the war years, appointed Hendy as his successor in 1946.

Hendy's directorship of the National Gallery was marred by criticisms from the press in 1947, after a controversial exhibition of cleaned pictures when it was claimed that many paintings had been ruined by the Gallery's chief restorer Helmut Ruhemann, and in 1961, when the theft of Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington called the quality of security at the Gallery into question. Hendy retired from the National Gallery in 1967 and from 1968 until 1971 he was a supervisor at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

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Dictionary of Art Historians entry on Philip Hendy