Samuel Courtauld

(1876—1947) industrialist and patron of the arts

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British industrialist, collector, and philanthropist. He came from a family of prosperous silk merchants and was chairman of the textile firm Courtaulds Ltd from 1921 to 1946. Although he enjoyed looking at paintings from a fairly early age, it was not until the turn of the century that art became a serious interest, and it was not until 1922 that he began collecting. He was greatly stimulated by the exhibition of Sir Hugh Lane's collection at the Tate Gallery in 1917, and Courtauld—like Lane—mainly bought 19th-century French paintings, chiefly works by the great masters of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. His collection included, for example, choice works by Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, and Renoir. In 1923 Courtauld gave the Tate Gallery £50,000 for the purchase of French paintings in his own area of interest (which was poorly represented), and this fund was used to buy 23 paintings over the next few years, transforming the Tate's collection. His interests also extended to living artists, and in 1925 he joined his friend Maynard Keynes (see Arts Council) in founding the London Artists' Association to provide financial assistance to young painters and sculptors. In 1931 came his most famous benefaction when he endowed the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Britain's first specialist centre for the study of the history of art. The Institute opened in 1932 in Courtauld's former home, a splendid building in Portman Square by James Wyatt and Robert Adam, and in the same year Courtauld presented most of his collection to the University of London, together with funds for a building to house them. The Courtauld Institute Galleries opened in Woburn Square in 1958, and in 1989–90 all the Institute's activities and collections were brought together under one roof at Somerset House, fulfilling Courtauld's intention that students should work in intimate contact with original works of art.

Subjects: Art.

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