The largest room in the National Gallery will be closed for more than a year following an “enlightened” £4 million donation from billionaire Hans Rausing for refurbishment.
Rausing and his art-expert wife Julia have made a donation to improve a room containing classic work of Italian painting, including those of Caravaggio.
More than a year of renovation work will take place following the donation, with light and air controls being installed in the room to protect the priceless 17th century collection.
Room 32 was completed in 1876 by the architect Edward Barry and is one of the most visited in the museum – housing pieces by Italian masters Caravaggio, Reni, Guercino, Rosa and Giordano.
It has now closed, with work beginning in January 2019.
The room will not open for visits until spring 2020, when it will reopen as the Julia and Hans Rousing Room.
Hannah Rothschild CBE, chair of the National Gallery Trustees, said: “The National Gallery is lucky to have such generous and enlightened supporters in Julia and Hans Rausing.
“Their gift will transform the heart of the building and greatly enhance the visitors’ experience and the exhibition of those works.”
The Rausing pair added: “Room 32 is an iconic room within the National Gallery and we are delighted to be able to support the renovations.”
While the work takes place, the National Gallery will look to display as many of the Room 32 works as possible elsewhere in the museum.