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European Masterpieces At The National Gallery of Australia

One of the things we missed most in 2020 was the chance to get out and see some great art exhibitions and attend cultural events. Luckily, as things have started to return to normal, new exhibitions and events are back on the agenda.

One we have been most excited about is the National Gallery of Australia’s European Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London. Australian audiences now have the rare opportunity to view some of the most celebrated paintings in the world in an exclusive season at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra until 14 June 2021.

Featuring renowned paintings by some of Europe’s most admired artists including Titian, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Canaletto, Turner, Renoir, Cézanne, Monet and Gauguin, the exhibition is a must for art and history lovers.

Carlo Crivelli. The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius. 1486. © The National Gallery, London. Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864.

Expect to experience first-hand many of the works that have defined European art history, including Vincent van Gogh’s much-loved Sunflowers, in the COVID-safe environment of Australia’s national capital, with limited timed-entry tickets available for 12 sessions per day.

The exhibition is the first major international showing in Australia since COVID-19 closed international borders in March last year. The exhibition of 61 paintings spanning nearly 500 years by 56 of European history’s greatest artists is the first international touring show by the National Gallery, London, in its near 200-year history.

Paul Gauguin. A Vase of Flowers. 1896. © The National Gallery, London.

National Gallery of Australia Director Nick Mitzevich said it was thrilling to see these iconic paintings – works that are the foundation of European art history – on the walls of Australia’s own National Gallery. “Simply, these works are outstanding – this exhibition is a 500-year slice of artistic excellence from some of the greatest creative spirits of all time,” he said.

Mr Mitzevich acknowledged exhibition partners the National Gallery, London, and Art Exhibitions Australia. “Putting on an exhibition of this significance has been a wonderfully collaborative effort and we are grateful to our partners for working with us to bring this major exhibition to Australian audiences during a pandemic,” he said.

“After a year of uncertainty and difficulties for many people, I’m glad we can play a part in bringing joy and inspiration to the community in the form of these extraordinary paintings.”

Installation view: Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from The National Gallery, London, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2021 featuring Paul Cézanne’s Hillside in Provence, c. 1890-92, Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers, 1888 and Paul Gauguin’s A Vase of Flowers, 1896. © National Gallery, London.

Co-ordinating curator Sally Foster said while many of the works were familiar to audiences, they should not underestimate the power of seeing them in real life. “These paintings are absolutely radiant. They light up the room. There is a reason they are considered masterpieces,” Ms Foster said.

The Director of the National Gallery, London, Gabriele Finaldi, said when the Gallery opened nearly two hundred years ago, the Trustees probably would never have envisaged paintings from the collection travelling anywhere, let alone the other side of the world.

“It is a pleasure to present a National Gallery in miniature in Canberra – and only in Canberra – with 61 of our greatest works and share with you some of the most significant episodes in the history of European art. I hope the exhibition will inspire and delight many Australian visitors,” Dr Finaldi said.

Dr Mark Nelson, Chair of Art Exhibitions Australia, said a loan from one national gallery to another was a perfect fit. “The London collection and its site on Trafalgar Square have always had a strong presence in the affections of Australians, and they embody a foundation heritage that informs and enlivens the great many voices in Australia.”

Vincent van Gogh. Sunflowers. 1888. © The National Gallery, London.

Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London is organised by The National Gallery London, Art Exhibitions Australia, and the National Gallery of Australia.
To book your timed ticket, visit here.

Want more? Click here for an Interview with artist Dina Broadhurst and here for the Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Australia.

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