The National Museum Cardiff (Welsh: Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd) is a museum and art gallery in Cardiff, Wales. It is part of the Edwardian civic complex of Cathays Park, which includes the City Hall, Law Courts, what is now Cardiff University and a building for the Welsh Assembly. It was designed by architects Arnold Dunbar Smith & Cecil Brewer. Its foundation stone was laid in 1912 but construction was delayed by the First World War and the National Museum was not open to the public until 1927, with some parts of the building being completed in 1932.
The museum is part of the wider network of the National Museum Wales (formerly the National Museums and Galleries of Wales). During 2007, National Museum Wales is celebrating its centenary. At this time there are a number of building works taking place to help restore the roof to the east wing of the museum. A series of special events are planned during the course of the year.
The collection of pre-18th century painting is notable for Poussin's Burial of Phocion, a French depiction of a classical subject and Jan van de Cappelle's A Calm, an atmospheric maritime scene from the Dutch Golden Age. There is a small collection of Renaissance art including paintings by Palma the Elder and Amico Aspertini and a tondo by the workshop of Sandro Botticelli in which the master's hand can be discerned. The collection's holdings include a group of portraits of historical figures such as Oliver Cromwell and Katherine of Berain, and four imposing cartoons for tapestries, attributed to Rubens.
There is a gallery devoted to the patronage of the Grand Tour, in particular that of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, who was nicknamed 'the Welsh Medici' for his lavish spending on the arts. Included is a portrait of Williams-Wynn in Rome with fellow Tourists by Pompeo Batoni, one of his second wife by Sir Joshua Reynolds and his chamber organ designed by Robert Adam. Another beautiful painting from this period is a portrait of Viscountess Elizabeth Bulkeley of Beaumaris as the mythological character Hebe, by the 'sublime and terrible' George Romney.
The collection of French art assembled by Margaret and Gwendoline Davies, granddaughters of the wealthy industrialist David Davies bequeathed to the National Museum in the 1950s and 1960s, make Wales's National Gallery one of international standing. It includes the largest group of paintings by Honor� Daumier in the world and the most important by Jean-Fran�ois Millet in Britain. There are Monets depicting Venice, and versions of his Rouen Cathedral and Waterlilies, themes which the artist constantly returned to and reworked. Two very different Proven�al landcapes can be found in Van Gogh's Rain at Auvers, painted in his final, tortured days, and C�zanne's arid Midday, l'Estaque. The two most famous works in the Davies Sisters' collection are La Parisienne by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and a version of Rodin's Kiss cast in bronze.
The art gallery has works by all of the notable Welsh artists, including landscapes by Richard Wilson and the pioneering Thomas Jones. There is a considerable body of work by John Gibson, Queen Victoria's favourite sculptor, and major paintings by Augustus John and his sister Gwen John, including the former's famous image of Dylan Thomas. Ceri Richards, an artist little-known outside Wales whose initial influence was Matisse but was inspired by Thomas's poetry to move towards a more sinewy abstract look, is represented here. The artistic output of David Jones is well-represented, but seldom on display owing to the fragile nature of his works on paper. Wales's most prominent contemporary painter, Sir Kyffin Williams (1918-2006), also features in the collection.
The collection of 20th century art includes works by sculptors Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill and painters including Stanley Spencer, L. S. Lowry and Oskar Kokoschka. Works by contemporary artists are on rotational display, including those by Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Rachel Whiteread.