Tate Gallery
Britain, Modern, Liverpool, St Ives: History, Exhibitions, Permanent Collection, Turner Prize.

For a guide to the best of
modern UK painters (1960-2000),
see Contemporary British Painting.

Tate Museums (UK)

The Tate is no longer a single museum devoted to the national collections of British and international modern art, but a group of four galleries:

Tate Britain (founded 1897 as the National Gallery of British Art);
Tate Modern (opened 2000);
Tate Liverpool (opened 1988);
Tate St Ives (opened 1993);
Art Museums in Europe

Between them, these four institutions care for a collection of over 66,000 works classified into two broad groups: British art since 1500, and international modern and contemporary art.

The Tate museums are among the most popular art venues in the world. In 2000-1, the Tate Modern alone received over 5 million visitors, which surely makes it one of the best art museums in Europe.

The Tate Modern, London is one of the
best galleries of contemporary art
in Europe.

Before visiting the Tate London, see
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art.

National Gallery London
National Portrait Gallery
Courtauld Gallery
British Royal Art Collection
Saatchi Gallery
National Gallery of Scotland
British Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden
Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin
Guggenheim Berlin
Pinakothek Museum Munich
Kunsthistorisches Museum
Kunstmuseum Basel

Origins and History

Founded in 1897 and known officially as the National Gallery of British Art, the museum was popularly referred to as the Tate Gallery, after its initial patron Sir Henry Tate. To begin with it focused solely on British painting (mainly of the Victorian era), but its controversial acquisition of Hugh Lane's collection of European Modern Art caused it to widen its remit to include contemporary works by overseas artists. Later expansion was assisted by charitable donations from the art dealer Joseph Duveen, Samuel Courtauld and Sir Charles Clore, as well as the Turner Bequest.

Uffizi Gallery Florence
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
Vatican Museums
Sistine Chapel Frescoes
Raphael Rooms (Vatican)
Guggenheim Venice
Louvre Museum
Musee Conde, Chantilly
Musee d'Orsay
Pompidou Centre
Mauritshuis Art Museum
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
Hermitage St Petersburg
Tretyakov Gallery Moscow
Prado Museum Madrid
Reina Sofia, Madrid
Guggenheim Bilbao

Greatest Art Museums in America.

For an outstanding collection of
Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Oriental
Judaica, crafts and artifacts,
see: Jewish Art Museum.

For a list of the world's greatest
libraries and museum collections
of Muslim culture, see:
Museums of Islamic Art.

For top creative practitioners, see:
Best Artists of All Time.

For a list of the finest works of
painting and sculpture, by the
world's most famous artists, see:
Greatest Paintings Ever.

By the early 1990s, the Tate Collection had grown too big for the original Tate Gallery at Millbank. As a result, it was decided to hive off the international modern art section of the Tate Collection, and house it in a separate new gallery - to be known as the Tate Modern. Meanwhile, the Tate building on Millbank would revert to its original intended function as the national gallery of British art. The latter venue has now been renamed the Tate Britain, and continues to be the national museum of British painting and sculpture from 1500 to the present day: roughly from Elizabethan times to the Turner Prize. For more details of the latter award for British contemporary art, please see Turner Prize Winners.

Tate Britain

This houses the finest collection of British art in the world, including paintings by William Blake (1757-1827), John Constable (1776-1837), Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82), and others from the English School of Figurative Painting, including Victorians like Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73), GF Watts (1817-1904) and Alfred Stevens (1817-75) - please see also Victorian art - as well as more modern artists like David Hockney (b.1937), plus sculptures and installation by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880–1959), Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), Henry Moore (1898-1986), and Damien Hirst (b.1965). The gallery is the global centre for the promotion and appreciation of British art, and helps promote it internationally, in exhibitions, festivals and cultural events. For more, see: Best English Painters.

Tate Modern

Founded in 2000 and situated in the former Bankside Power Station, the museum is now Britain's new national centre of contemporary art, having taken over responsibility for the modernist component previously housed at the Tate gallery at Millbank. In this capacity it exhibits international modern art dating from 1900 to the present day, including masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol as well as contemporary work by artists such as the contemporary Irish sculptor Dorothy Cross and the duo Gilbert & George.

See also our article: How To Appreciate Paintings.


The Tate collection of modern art is exhibited on two of the gallery's floors, while the third is devoted to new, more temporary shows. In addition, from October to March, specially-organized displays by contemporary artists are staged in the Turbine Hall on level 1.

The latter have included leading creative figures such as, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2008), Doris Salcedo (2007), Carsten Höller (2006), Rachel Whiteread (2005), Bruce Nauman (2004), Olafur Eliasson (2003), Anish Kapoor (2002), Juan Munoz (2001), and Louise Bourgeois (2000).

Tate Liverpool

Established in 1988 and located in a beautiful renovated warehouse which forms part of the historic Albert Dock, Tate Liverpool is home to two main types of artworks: fine art selected from the Tate Collection and also special shows of contemporary art (sourced from other UK collections). Over eighty different exhibitions have been staged since the museum was opened, featuring more than 300 different artists.

As a centre of modern art, Tate Liverpool typically shows a diverse and challenging range of works taken from the field of avant-garde art, including: video art, photography, printmaking, performance and installation in addition to painting and sculpture. As well as UK artists, the gallery exhibits work by overseas artists, and collaborates with creative organizations in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, North America, Ireland, Japan and Korea and Japan.


Tate St Ives

This museum aims to preserve the traditions of art, especially 20th century art, in St Ives, through a program which includes showings of British and overseas artworks and an artistic residency program. It is the second regional venue (after Tate Liverpool) in the Tate network, although the Tate organization also runs the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives, which was established in 1980.

Ever since 19th century visits by J.M.W. Turner, Whistler and Walter Sickert, the small town of St Ives in Cornwall has a rich tradition of attracting artists from all over Britain and the Continent. In the later 1930s, it became home to the St Ives School, an artist movement whose early members included Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood, the local marine painter Alfred Wallis, the ceramics artists Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, the sculptress Barbara Hepworth and sculptor Naum Gabo. The town rapidly became a centre for abstract avant-garde landscape painting, and attracted a new generation of creative practitioners like Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, John Wells and Bryan Wynter, who had a significant influence on the evolution of fine art painting in the UK during the second half of the 20th century.

Tate Online

Launched in 1998 and sponsored by BT, Tate Online is the organization's website, which provides news and information on all four Tate venues. In addition to news of current and forthcoming shows, along with details of exhibits, Tate Online provides a large searchable database of works in the Tate Collection, plus structured e-learning opportunities for all visitors, with over 400 hours of archived webcasts, articles from the magazine TATE ETC. and a series of special Internet art commissions.

The Collection

The Tate's collection (2008) consists of 66,000 works of art by 3,000 artists, including British works from 1500 to the present day and twentieth century works by both British and International artists. It comprises:

• 4,930 paintings
• 47,653 unique works on paper
• 13,272 prints on paper
• 329 blocks for printing
• 1,690 sculptures
• 285 reliefs
• 333 installations

Movements and Periods

Nearly all modern art styles and genres are represented in the Tate collection, including: Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Suprematism, De Stijl, Neo-Plasticism, Dada, Surrealism, Conceptual Art, Abstract Expressionism, Action Painting, Colour Field Painting, Pop-Art, Post-Modernism, Op-Art, Minimalism, Assemblage, Photorealism and Street Art, to name but a few.

Highlights of the Collection

Among the many outstanding works of painting, sculpture and contemporary artforms like video and installation are the following:



Frank Auerbach (b.1931)
The Sitting Room, 1964

Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944
Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh IV, 1957
Triptych - August 1972, 1972

James Barry (1741-1806)
King Lear Weeping over the Dead Body of Cordelia, 1786-8

Max Beckmann (1884-1950)
Carnival, 1920

William Blake (1757-1827)
Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing, 1786
Newton, 1805
Nebuchadnezzar, 1805
God Judging Adam, 1795

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Mandora, 1909-10

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
The Gardener Vallier, 1906

John Constable (1776-1837)
Flatford Mill, 1816-17
The Opening of Waterloo Bridge

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815)
The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781, 1783

Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937

Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
The Visit, 1966-7

André Derain (1880-1954)
Portrait of Henri Matisse, 1905

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Monsieur Plume with Creases in his Trousers, 1947

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
The Tree of Fluids, 1950

Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Celebes, 1921

Lucian Freud (b.1922)
Girl with a White Dog, 1950-1

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Sunset: Carthorses Drinking at a Stream, 1760

Gilbert & George Duo (b.1943, and 1942)
England, 1980

George Grosz (1893-1959)
Suicide, 1916


David Hockney (b.1937)
Tea Painting in an Illusionistic Style, 1961
A Bigger Splash, 1967

William Hogarth (1697-1764)
The Painter and his Pug, 1745

Jasper Johns (b.1930)
0 through 9, 1961

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Cossacks, 1910-11

Fernand Leger (1881-1955)
Still Life with a Beer Mug, 1921-2

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Whaam! 1963

René Magritte (1898-1967)
The Annunciation, 1930

Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935)
Dynamic Suprematism, 1916

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Trivaux Pond, 1917
The Snail, 1953

Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896)
Christ in the House of His Parents, 1849-50
Ophelia, 1851-2
Mariana, 1851

Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Painting, 1927
A Star Caresses the Breast of a Negress, 1938

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
The Tree A, 1913
Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937-42

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Water-Lilies, after 1916

Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
The Sick Child, 1907

Paul Nash (1889-1946)
Landscape from a Dream, 1936-8
Dead Sea, 1940-1

Barnett Newman (1905-1970)
Adam, 1951-2

Francis Picabia (1879-1953)
The Fig-Leaf, 1922

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Girl in a Chemise, 1905
The Three Dancers, 1925
Weeping Woman, 1937

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Summertime: Number 9A, 1948
Number 14, 1951

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)
Almanac, 1962

Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen, 1773
Self-Portrait as a Deaf Man, 1775

Bridget Riley (b.1931)
Fall, 1963

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation), 1849-50


Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
Light Red Over Black, 1957
Red on Maroon, 1959

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885-6

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)
Ennui, 1914
Brighton Pierrots, 1915

George Stubbs (1724-1806)
Mares and Foals in a River Landscape, 1763-8
Haymakers, 1785

Graham Sutherland OM (1903-1980)
Entrance to a Lane, 1939

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps
The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire
The Bay of Baiae, with Apollo and the Sibyl
Peace - Burial at Sea
Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Marilyn Diptych, 1962

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl, 1864
Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge, 1872-5


Georg Baselitz (b.1938)
Untitled, 1982-3

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
Maiastra, 1911
Fish, 1926

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
Lobster Telephone, 1936

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1922

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, 1923
Fountain 1917, (replica) 1964

Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
Female Figure in Flenite, 1913
Jacob and the Angel, 1940

Naum Gabo (1890-1977)
Head No. 2 1916, 1964
Construction in Space with Crystalline Centre, 1940
Linear Construction No. 2, 1971

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)
Red Stone Dancer, 1913

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Hour of the Traces, 1930
Man Pointing, 1947

Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903-1975)
Three Forms, 1935
Pelagos, 1946

Sol LeWitt (1928-2007)
Five Open Geometric Structures, 1979

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Head, 1911-2

Henry Moore OM, CH (1898-1986)
Four-Piece Composition: Reclining Figure, 1934
Recumbent Figure, 1938
Reclining Figure, 1951

Bruce Nauman (b.1941)
Untitled (Three Large Animals), 1989

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
The Kiss, 1901-4


Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)
The End of the Twentieth Century, 1983-5

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
Cell (Eyes and Mirrors), 1989-93

Damien Hirst (b.1965)
Pharmacy, 1992

For more about exhibitions of avant-garde works by postmodernist artists, see: Best Contemporary Art Festivals.

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