National Geographic : 1952 Jan
Ingres himself ap pears as the fourth brown-clad figure be low the Cardinals. In the background are frescoes by Cosimo Rosselli, Botticelli, Perugino, Pintoricchio, and Michelangelo which decorate the Sis tine Chapel. Thus Ingres's picture seems a symbol of the inde structible connection between the Old Mas ters and the beginnings of modern art. The Kress Founda tion has acquired sculp ture as well as paint ings. Fortunately it was possible to buy the entire Dreyfus Collec tion of Renaissance bronzes, some 1,300 in number. These were assembled by a French connoisseur, Gustave Dreyfus, who was de termined to have a col lection as great as any existing in the world. After the Franco Prussian War and con tinuing until his death in 1914, Dreyfus spent almost all his time trading, exchanging, and seeking unique pieces, early castings, and perfect examples. Because bronze be comes more beautiful the more it is polished, two of his daughters, who never married, U0 .National ualery o Art A Squeamish Owner Painted Out the Dragon's Dinner Course Two human heads, an arm, and a foot originally decorated the foreground of Sodoma's "St. George and the Dragon" (page 98). After the Kress Foundation acquired the painting, X-rays revealed the alteration, and the overpaint was removed (page 76). Restoration is a ticklish process, involving chemical analysis of both the original and the new paint, then the use of solvents removing one and not the other. In some cases overpaint can be eliminated only with a scalpel, flake by flake. spent their days polishing and repolishing. Fortunately, the Renaissance bronzes were kept together after Dreyfus died. Addition of this collection has placed the National Gallery on a par with the greatest museums in Europe in the field of medals, reliefs, plaquettes, and small bronzes. Likewise, in the field of French 18th century sculpture Kress Foundation gifts, added to the pieces in the Widener Collection, place the Gallery in the foremost rank. But benefactions on this scale, though re ceived several times in the Gallery's short his tory, are not likely to be repeated. In the future its exhibition space will probably fill more slowly. But already in its first decade the National Gallery of Art has received a great treasure of visual beauty. This has happened at an opportune time. All over the country the desire to see works of art has increased. Dur ing ten years more than 18,000,000 visitors have come to the Gallery. People today are beginning to get such pleasure from looking at masterpieces as generations have received from listening to fine music. They are learning at the same time that all art is a stirring witness to human creativity, a witness that fortifies our faith in the dignity of man and our belief in the final triumph of Christian ideals. For additional articles in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE on the National Gallery, see: "American Masters in the National Gallery," September, 1948, and "The Vienna Treasures and Their Collectors," June, 1950, both by John Walker; also "Masterpieces on Tour," by Harry A. McBride, December, 1948.