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The Yale Center for British Art is an art museum in New Haven, Connecticutmarker at Yale Universitymarker which houses the most comprehensive collection of British Art outside the United Kingdommarker. It concentrates on work from the Elizabethan period onward.

The Center was established by a gift from Paul Mellon of his British art collection to Yalemarker in 1966, together with an endowment for operations of the Center, and funds for a building to house the works of art. The building was designed by Louis I. Kahn and constructed at the corner of York and Chapel Streets in New Haven, across the street from one of Kahn's earliest buildings, the Yale University Art Gallerymarker, built in 1953. The Yale Center for British Art was completed, after Kahn's death, in 1974. The exterior is made of matte steel and reflective glass; the interior is of travertine marble, white oak, and Belgian linen.

The Center is affiliated with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Artmarker in Londonmarker, which sponsors the "Yale-in-London" undergraduate study abroad program, publishes academic titles, and awards grants and fellowships.


The collection consists of nearly 2,000 paintings and 100 sculptures, with an emphasis, reflecting Mellon's interest, in the interval between William Hogarth's birth (1697) to J. M. W. Turner's death (1851). Other artists represented include Thomas Gainsborough, George Stubbs, Joseph Wright, John Constable, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Lawrence, Robert Polhill Bevan, Stanley Spencer, Barbara Hepworth, and Ben Nicholson.

The collection also has works by artists from continental Europe and America who painted for British patrons or otherwise pursued their careers in Britain. These include Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Canaletto, Johann Zoffany, John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and James McNeill Whistler.

Interior of the third floor
Third floor lobby

Some areas of emphasis of the collection are small portraits, known as "conversation pieces", including those by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Zoffany and Arthur Devis; landscape paintings by Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, Constable, Richard Parkes Bonington and Turner; and British sporting and animal paintings, featuring George Stubbs, John Wootton, Benjamin Marshall, and Alfred Munnings. Other genres include marine paintings, represented by Samuel Scott and Charles Brooking; London cityscapes; travel art from India, scenes of Shakespearean plays, and portraits of actors.

Sculptors represented include Louis-Francois Roubiliac, Joseph Nollekens, Francis Chantrey, Jacob Epstein, and Henry Moore.

In recent years, emphasis has been placed on the acquisition of works by the so-called Young British Artists, including In and Out of Love, an important early piece by Damien Hirst.

The collection of 20,000 drawings and watercolors and 30,000 prints features British sporting art and figure drawings. It includes works by Hogarth, Paul Sandby, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Rowlandson, William Blake, John Constable, Samuel Palmer, Richard Parkes Bonington, John Ruskin, J. M. W. Turner, Walter Sickert, Duncan Grant, Paul Nash, Edward Burra, Stanley Spencer, Augustus John, Gwen John, and the Pre-Raphaelites.

The Center's collection of rare books and manuscripts has about 30,000 volumes, including maps, atlases, sporting books, and archival material of British artists. It also has some 1,300 leaves originating in illustrated incunabula.

The four-floor Center also houses a reference library, a photo archive, a conservation laboratory, and a study room. It sponsors such activities as films, lectures, concerts, tours, and other special events.

The Center is open to the public free of charge six days a week.


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