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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
1st March 1928 Born today: Joss Ackland, London England, actor (Queenie, To Kill a Priest)
The Courtauld Institute of Art
The Courtauld Institute of Art Historians and once run by a spy.
Location: Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
Description: The Courtauld Institute of Art is one of the worlds leading centres for the study of the history and conservation of art and architecture, and its Gallery houses one of Britains best-loved collections. It's based near the Strand at Somerset House, and is an independent college of the University of London.
The Gallery is open daily and contains iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, as well as numerous other important paintings and works on paper from the Renaissance through to the 20th century.
Its temporary exhibitions tend to be small in scale, and are designed to offer as much food for the mind as pleasure to the eye.
It's reputed that the infamous Italian Art Critic Vittorio Sgarbi was once apprehended walking out of the Institute with several valuable old books. At the time he claimed he was setup by a rival art critic.
In 1939 Anthony Blunt became deputy director of the Courtauld Institute and from 1947 to 1974 he was director, playing a major role in establishing art history as a serious academic discipline in Britain. However, in 1979 it was sensationally announced in Parliament that Blunt had been a spy for the Soviet Union during the Second World War (when he worked for MI5). He had confessed in 1964, being offered immunity from prosecution in return for the information he provided. The revelation caused a huge scandal, for Blunt was not only a highly distinguished academic, but also a former senior royal servant. He coped calmly with the disgrace (which included being stripped of his knighthood) and continued his scholarly work until the end of his life.