The appointment was confirmed by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron.
Dr Finaldi will take up his new position on 17 August 2015. Current Director, Dr Nicholas Penny announced his retirement in summer 2014.
Dr Finaldi, a British citizen, is currently Deputy Director for Collections and Research at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid where he has been since 2002. He was formerly a curator at the National Gallery
, London, between 1992 and 2002 where he was responsible for the later Italian paintings in the collection (Caravaggio to Canaletto) and the Spanish collection (Bermejo to Goya).
Born in London, the 49-year-old studied art history at Dulwich College and then at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where his doctoral research focused on the 17th-century painter Jusepe de Ribera. At the National Gallery he curated various exhibitions including 'Spanish Still Life from Velázquez to Goya' (1995), 'Discovering the Italian Baroque: The Denis Mahon Collection' (1997), 'Orazio Gentileschi at the Court of Charles I' (1999) and (together with previous National Gallery Director, Neil MacGregor) 'Seeing Salvation: The Image of Christ' (2000).
Gabriele Finaldi said: I feel deeply honoured to take on the Directorship of the National Gallery after Nicholas Penny. This is a world-class collection in a world-class city and I eagerly look forward to working with the Trustees and the staff to strengthen the Gallerys bond with the public and its international standing. I also look forward to developing an exciting exhibition programme and the Gallerys research and educational activities.
At the Prado, Spains principal museum of painting which houses superb works by Van der Weyden, Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya, Gabriele Finaldi has overseen (with Director Miguel Zugaza), a remarkable transformation of the institution, which included the opening of the Prado extension (2007), the overhaul of the museums organisational structure, the opening of the Prado Research Centre (2008), the complete re-hang of the permanent collection, and the development of an impressive international exhibition programme.*
Mark Getty, Chair of the Trustees of the National Gallery said: I am delighted that Gabriele Finaldi will succeed Dr Nicholas Penny as Director of the National Gallery in August 2015. In addition to his scholarship, particularly in Italian and Spanish painting, Dr Finaldi has been responsible for internationally acclaimed exhibitions and publications. As Co-Director of the Prado he has been responsible for a range of successful and complex projects and he will bring considerable experience to the Gallery. We are absolutely delighted that he has accepted the post.
Miguel Zugaza, Director, Museo del Prado said: Gabriele Finaldi has contributed decisively to the modernization of the Museo del Prado in the last decade, most significantly, in positioning the Museum internationally and developing its conservation and research roles. I am both pleased and proud that the Trustees have decided to appoint him Director of the National Gallery. At the Prado we hope that his presence in London will give a new impulse to the highly positive collaboration already established between our Museum and the Gallery under the leadership of our esteemed friend and colleague, Nicholas Penny.
Dr Finaldi recently curated an exhibition on Murillo, 'The Art of Friendship: Murillo and Justino de Neve' (2012) which was on display at the Prado, Seville and at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. At the Prado he spearheaded the acquisition of Pieter Bruegel the Elders 'Feast of the Wine of Saint Martin' (ca. 1566), and the early and exceedingly rare French panel painting attributed to Colart de Laon, 'The Agony in the Garden with the donor, Louis I of Orléans' (1405-10). He is the editor of the Museum's art historical periodical, the 'Boletín del Museo del Prado', and is currently writing a book on the drawings of Ribera.