Chester Dale

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Portrait of Chester Dale by George Bellows, 1922, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.

Chester Dale (May 3, 1883 – December 16, 1962)[1][2] was an American banker and patron of the arts. Dale earned large sums from working for the New York Stock Exchange, allowing him to collect a group of 19th and 20th-century French paintings. Although he considered establishing a private museum, he donated a part of his collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1941. The rest of his collection was bequeathed to the National Gallery upon his death.[3]


Dale was born in 1883, and started his financial career at the age of fifteen, as a runner for the New York Stock Exchange.

In time, he acquired assets that included utilities, railroads, and municipal bonds in the USA and Canada. When the National Gallery of Art opened, Dale lent the gallery 22 American pictures, and within a few months, two rooms of French Impressionist paintings were established. Upon the request of painter George Bellows, Dale agreed to sit for an oil on canvas painting in 1922, depicting Dale holding a golf club. Both Dale and Bellows were semi-professional athletes in their younger years.[4]

In 1962, the long term loans of major artists who worked in Paris from the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century were left to the gallery at the bequest of Dale. Included in the works that Dale bequeathed to the gallery were works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne,[5] Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. [4]

Personal life[edit]

Mrs. Chester Dale, a portrait of his wife, by George Bellows, 1919, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

At the age of 27, he married Maud Murray, a painter and critic, who introduced him to the idea of collecting modern art.


The National Gallery of Art obtained 88 paintings from Dale's personal residence, an apartment in the Plaza Hotel in New York, upon his death. The paintings were added to his 152 items already on loan to the National Gallery of Art. There were 6 new galleries established on the main floor to house the additional acquisitions. The bequest included 240 paintings, 7 sculptures, 22 graphics, over 1200 sales catalogs, and more than 1500 books. Additionally as part of the bequest, there were 3 fellowships established with a $500,000 endowment. Dale's gifts are currently located on the main floor in galleries 86 through 91.[6]


  1. ^ "The National Gallery of Art;; Chester Dale". National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  2. ^ "The Chester Dale Bequest". National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. May 6 – August 18, 1965. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  3. ^ "Chester Dale". The New Book of Knowledge, Grolier Incorporated. 1977. , page 373; and National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), pages 40-41.
  4. ^ a b "From the Tour: Founding Benefactors of the National Gallery of Art". National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  5. ^ Portrait of Louis Guillaume (1882)
  6. ^ "The Chester Dale Bequest". National Gallery of Art. 1965. Retrieved 2009-07-19.