Viscount Lee of Fareham’s scheme for a specialist art history institute is first mooted




Samuel Courtauld’s wife Elizabeth dies. He transfers Home House, their home in Portman Square, for use by the new Institute and establishes the Home House Society in his wife’s memory.


October 1932             


The Courtauld Institute of Art opens its doors with William Constable as Director


December 1933         


Lee and Courtauld arrange for scholars attached to the Warburg Library in Hamburg to be resettled in London, due to the advent of a Nazi government in Germany; the emigrés introduce new standards of scholarship in art history



Artist and critic Roger Fry dies leaving 20th-century works and non-Western objects to The Courtauld


William Constable resigns as director over a disagreement about whether the courses should be restricted to postgraduates. He is replaced by Thomas Boase

September 1939          

World War II breaks out – works of art are evacuated to the country and only minimal teaching continues


Anthony Blunt takes over as Director
Samuel Courtauld and Viscount Lee both die leaving significant bequests


George Zarnecki begins work at The Courtauld, later to become Deputy Director


Sir Robert Witt dies bequeathing his collection of approximately 3000 Old Master drawings to The Courtauld in addition to his extensive collection of prints. His celebrated photographic reference library can no longer be housed at 32 Portman Square so no. 19 is taken over for the purpose



The annual summer schools begin, organised by Barbara Robertson


A large part of the collection goes on view public in a dedicated gallery space in  Woburn Square



The History of Dress department is created


The Courtauld Gallery receives a bequest of 14th- to 16th-century Italian paintings and decorative arts from Mark Gambier-Parry



William Spooner leaves a collection of fine British watercolours to The Courtauld


Another adjacent property on Portman Square is acquired to ease the Institute’s continuing accommodation problems


Blunt retires and is replaced by Peter Lasko


Count Antoine Seilern’s major collection of Old Master paintings and drawings is bequeathed to the Home House Society for The Courtauld Gallery


The lease on Portman Square finally expires


The distinguished Cork Street dealer Lillian Browse donates her private collection to The Courtauld



The Department of Wall Paintings Conservation is created

Lasko retires and is replaced by Michael Kauffmann

October 1989             

The Courtauld Institute of Art moves into the Strand side of Somerset House; securing the lease requires an Act of Parliament


The Courtauld Institute of Art is awarded a 5* grade in the Research Assessment Exercise

The exhibition Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836, the most ambitious exhibition ever mounted by The Courtauld, is opened. It wins the William M. B. Berger prize for British Art History

August 2002                

The Courtauld becomes an independent college of the University of London



James Cuno is appointed Director


James Cuno leaves to take up the directorship of the Art Institute of Chicago and is replaced by Deborah Swallow


The Courtauld launches its online image database, The digitisation of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs was supported by the New Opportunities Fund.



An exceptional collection of British watercolours is received in a bequest from Dorothy Scharf who died in 2004


Summer 2007              

The Courtauld’s book library undergoes a full refurbishment

October 2007             

The Courtauld celebrates its 75th anniversary and launches a new MA in Curating the Art Museum

To read a full history of The Courtauld Institute of Art click here