Literally days ago, the renovated building of the City Art Gallery was revealed to us, which already has an increased exhibition area and more space for sharing works from the treasury of Bulgarian art. The authentic appearance of the building has been preserved, and its reconstruction has made it one of the most impressive buildings under the hills.
It was completed at the end of 1881 according to a project by arch. Josef Schnitter and was initially intended for the District Girls' High School with Franciska Shourek as its principal. The educational institution is the successor of the Diocesan Girls' Annunciation School in Plovdiv since 1862, and among the donors for the new building are prominent residents of the city such as Metropolitan Panaret, Yoakim Gruev, Todor Kesyakov, Hristo G. Danov, Kostaki Peev and others.
The high school enrolled 116 students, divided into four classes, which increased annually until the course of study became seven years. It included not only children from Plovdiv, but also from all over Southern Bulgaria, Thrace and Macedonia. Along with the general education disciplines, the program also included subjects necessary for a girl - housekeeping, needlework and pedagogy.
Today the former Girls' High School is home to the permanent exhibition of the City Art Gallery in Plovdiv, officially opened in 1952. The selection of works began in 1881, when the National Library and Museum - Plovdiv received four copies of the Ktetor portraits of the Boyana Church ( 1259) made by the Tryavna painter Simeon Ts. Simeonov. Later, in 1911, an art department was established at the museum with the 25 works of art available. At the time when Nikolai Raynov was the chief librarian (1922), many engravings, prints, lithographs, including graphic and pictorial works by Nikolai Pavlovich, were added to the collection. From 1926 to 1931, Nikola Mavrodinov, appointed curator, added eight magnificent Nessebar icons from the 16th century. In 1930, Tsar Boris III presented the National Library and Museum with the painting Portrait of Sophroniy Vrachanski (1812) considered the first secular portrait in Bulgarian art. Currently, some of them can be found in various collections of the City Art Gallery, but are still part of its collection.
On January 1, 1950, the City Art Gallery Service, headed by the artist Angel Tomov, was established within the Department of Science, Art and Culture at the Plovdiv City People's Council.
To date, the gallery's collection is one of the richest, numbering over 7,200 works of fine art. The most remarkable and valuable exhibits are hung in the spacious halls with high ceilings, which have preserved the spirit of Schnitter. The exhibits there are permanent and the canvases are replaced only when a larger treasure appears or one of them needs restoration. The Plovdiv collection is among the richest in works of art from the early periods of development of Bulgarian art in the country.