Raising the Roof: The new Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery

If you have visited The Courtauld Gallery recently you may have encountered a builder in a hard hat and wondered what the occasional hammering sound coming from the mezzanine floor was.


Cladding of the room and first fit of main ducts for environmental control feeds in the small ceiling void

Since August this year, our new Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery has been taking shape. A talented team of architects and structural engineers have been assisting us with the challenging task of transforming a former storage facility into an impressive dedicated drawings gallery for the public.

Withereford Whatson Mann are the architects behind this project and have been working with us to create a welcoming space, that will not only display our exceptional collection of drawings but give our visitors an enriched gallery experience with greater access to our collection.


The new gallery space, with struts to support the ceiling prior to structural works, and walls stripped back to original brickwork


 Ceiling prior to raising

Major changes are already taking place with some significant structural work, included raising the ceilings, already completed. Over the next few months the room will start to come together as the contractors lay the floors, finalise the environmental controls and add the finishing touches.

The Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery will open to the public on 15 January 2014 with its first display Unseen,  drawing attention to the range and depth of our collection by focusing on works which have not been exhibited to the public in the last 20 years.

A selection of 20 works will make up this display dating from Two men in conversation, a 15th century Renaissance drawing from the school of Francesco Squarcione (c. 1395 – after 1468), the teacher of Andrea Mantegna, to Africa, a work from 1962 by Larry Rivers (1923-2002), considered to be the godfather of Pop Art.

Each year the new Gallery will host a dynamic programme of displays and will also function as a platform for research and experimentation, encouraging the development of new approaches in the study of drawings.

This project has been made possible by a generous gift from American philanthropist Gilbert Butler and his wife Ildiko alongside substantial donations from a range of significant stakeholders. We are confident that this fantastic new addition to the Gallery will be a welcome enhancement for all our visitors.

Jennifer's Favorite Painting

Jennifer Seymour,  Individual Campaigns and Legacies Manager

In this occasional series we ask Courtauld staff to tell us about their favourite painting in the collection.




My favourite painting in the Gallery is Paul Cézanne’s Lac d’Annecy.

When I first started at The Courtauld, I knew very little about art and our amazing collection. In my first few weeks in post, we held a telethon to raise money for our 80th anniversary Annual Fund appeal.

Whilst going through the notes from our student callers, I read about one call with a long-standing supporter of The Courtauld, who said she loved the painting Lac d’Annecy so much that she asked her husband to take her there on their honeymoon.



Paul Cézanne, Lac d’Annecy,  1896


Intrigued and touched by this story, I just had to see the painting for myself. I adored it immediately, and every time I see it I am not only reminded of the lovely honeymoon story, but I also find something new to admire about it. I find Cézanne’s use of colour spectacular and I love the way the whole scene is framed by the tree – to me, it gives the painting more depth. I always feel very peaceful when I look at it.

I find it wonderful to wander round the Gallery and imagine so many of the paintings hanging in Samuel Courtauld’s house in Portman Square, which was the original home of The Courtauld for over 60 years.

In 1932, Samuel Courtauld, Robert Witt and Viscount Lee of Fareham came together to bequeath the collections that were the founding of The Courtauld. Today, the legacy gifts we receive help support the future of The Courtauld, enabling us to care for our world-class collections and supporting future generations of students.


Find out more about leaving a gift in your will here