National Gallery of Art, West Building: Overview

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The National Gallery of Art, West Building, is situated on the north side of the Mall between Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive, and 4th and 7th streets, N.W. Constructed between 1936 and 1941, the West Building foreshadows John Russell Pope’s similar, but more spectacular, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, 1938-1943. Other of his classically designed buildings include the Brazilian Embassy (McCormick House) c. 1910, the Scottish Rite Temple in 1915, the Meridian House in 1922, Constitution Hall in 1929, the National City Christian Church in 1930, the American Pharmacists Association building in 1933, and the National Archives Building in 1935. The firm of Eggers and Higgins became involved in the project in 1953, and reorganizations and renovations were carried out in the 1980s, 1998 and 2002. John Russell Pope, “an unapologetic classicist” (Moeller, p. 95) shaped the Mall entrance of the National Gallery of Art in the form of the Roman Pantheon with Ionic columns, Doric pilasters. The inside of the magnificent central rotunda is dominated by a bronze statue of Mercury (ca. 1780/1800) attributed to Francesco Righetti. The galleries are repositories of many paintings and sculptures which illustrate various aspects of Greco-Roman culture, including:

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National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. (no date)
A view of the National Gallery of Art, with Capital in background, taken from the corner of 6th Street and Constitution Avenue.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. (no date)
The National Gallery of Art, the munificent gift to the nation of the late Andrew W. Mellon, is one of the most beautiful structures of its kind in the world......