News - National Gallery 2017 Exhibitions


Now that we're into July, it's time for the galleries to start planning ahead for NEXT year. Here's what the National Gallery in London has in store...

Michelangelo | Sebastiano: A Meeting of Minds 
15 March – 25 June 2017

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White  
1 November 2017 – 18 February 2018

Australia's Impressionists 
7 December 2016 – 26 March 2017

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic
26 April – 28 August 2017

Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites 
4 October 2017 – 2 April 2018

Maíno's Adorations: Heaven on Earth 
28 September 2016 – 29 January 2017

Cagnacci's Repentant Magdalene: An Italian Baroque Masterpiece from the Norton Simon Museum 
15 February – 21 May 2017

Giovanni Da Rimini: An Early 14th-Century Masterpiece Reunited 
14 June – 8 October 2017


MICHELANGELO | SEBASTIANO: A MEETING OF MINDS

This major exhibition will focus on the extraordinary artistic relationship between Sebastiano del Piombo (about 1485–1547) and Michelangelo (1475–1564) from the 1510s through to the 1540s.

Michelangelo, who was then finishing his decoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. They became friends and collaborated on several works, with Michelangelo providing the younger artist with drawings and ideas. There will be a special focus on two of these collaborations: the 'Pietà' for San Francesco in Viterbo (c.1512–16), an exceptional loan, and the 'Raising of Lazarus' (1517–19), painted for the Cathedral of Narbonne, one of the foundational works in the National Gallery Collection. In 1517, Michelangelo left for Florence only to return in 1534 to paint the 'Last Judgement' in the Sistine Chapel.

In addition to covering their great collaborative projects, the exhibition will include works preceding their meeting, in part to better demonstrate the originality of their joint creations. It will also follow the lower-key, long-distance creative relationship between the two artists in the years they spent apart, and it will examine their allegedly acrimonious falling-out and creative parting of ways after Michelangelo’s return to Rome.

Key will be both artists’ treatment of the death and resurrection of Christ, with Michelangelo’s highly original and deeply personal treatments inspiring Sebastiano’s own, very different and spiritually charged interpretations of the theme. Juxtapositions with preparatory drawings by both artists will elucidate their creative processes, while selected sculpture by Michelangelo will demonstrate how Sebastiano adapted his colleague’s approach to figure and characterisation, and – perhaps more unexpectedly – how Michelangelo applied to his sculpture ideas gained through their collaboration. Examples of their extensive and at times very intimate correspondence will also be on display, providing behind-the-scenes insight into their personal and creative lives, their concerns and frustrations, and moments of glory.

Following three interrelated strands thematic, material, and biographical, 'Michelangelo – Sebastiano: A Meeting of Minds' will present a fascinating collaboration and artistic dialogue between the two great Renaissance masters.


MONOCHROME, PAINTING IN BLACK AND WHITE

This exhibition will explore the tradition of painting in black and white from its beginnings in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and into the 21st century.

Although painting using predominantly black-and-white pigments has long held a fascination for artists, there has never been a major international loan exhibition on the subject. Painters consciously reduced their colour palette for a wide variety of reasons but predominantly as a way of focusing the beholder’s attention on a particular subject, concept or technique.

Organised in a chronological manner, 'Monochrome: Painting in Black and White' will present a series of case studies that investigate where and when painting 'en grisaille' was used and to what effect: from early religious works, which stipulated that sacred images for particular locations or seasons in the liturgical calendar should be painted ‘without colour’ to paintings that emulate sculpture or respond to other media such as printmaking, photography, and film.

A distinguished and highly varied selection of some sixty painted objects, including works on glass, vellum, ceramic, silk, wood, and canvas by such exceptional artists as Leonardo da Vinci, RembrandT van Rijn, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Gerhard Richter, will enable visitors to trace the fascinating but little-studied history of black-and-white painting.

The exhibition will feature key works from the National Gallery Collection as well as major loans from other international institutions, and will showcase new technical and art-historical research.

This exhibition is organised by the National Gallery in collaboration with Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf.


AUSTRALIA’S IMPRESSIONISTS

'Australia’s Impressionists' will be the first exhibition in the UK to focus on Impressionist artists from Australia. The exhibition will examine their work against the backdrop of the global 19th century.

Some forty loans will be on display at the National Gallery, including important masterpieces by Australia’s leading impressionist artists, many never previously shown in the UK. Lenders include some of Australia’s leading public galleries, as well as private collectors there and in the UK. The exhibition will promote a new, international awareness of the country’s significant and distinctive Impressionist movement. Featuring four major artists of ‘Australian Impressionism’, the exhibition will show significant works by Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and John Peter Russell. The last of these rarely exhibited and was only discovered as ‘Australia’s lost Impressionist’ in the second half of the 20th century.

Introducing Impressionism as it manifested itself in the unique Australian context, both closely related to yet entirely distinct from its French and British counterparts, the exhibition considers the role Australia’s Impressionists played in defining a new sense of ‘national’ identity as the Australian colonies moved towards Federation in 1901.

'Australia’s Impressionists' is the latest example of the National Gallery’s expansion of its horizons by representing not only great works of art by Western European painters, but also paintings produced around the world in the Western European tradition. The exhibition takes inspiration from the long-term loan of Arthur Streeton’s Blue Pacific (1890) to the National Gallery – the first time a painting by an Australian artist has ever been shown among the Gallery’s world-renowned collection.

This exhibition is organised by the National Gallery, in collaboration with Art Gallery of New South Wales.


CHRIS OFILI: WEAVING MAGIC

The National Gallery presents Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili’s new work, his first foray into the medium of tapestry. Ofili is returning to the National Gallery following the exhibition Metamorphosis: Titian 2012.

Commissioned by the Clothworkers’ Company, a Livery Company established in 1528 to oversee the cloth-finishing trade in the City of London, the tapestry will go on permanent display in the Clothworkers’ Hall following the National Gallery’s unveiling and exhibition of the work.

Chris Ofili has been collaborating with the internationally renowned Dovecot Tapestry Studio to create the work which will be completed in spring 2017.

Like Rubens, Goya and many artists before him who have engaged with this medium, Ofili has been working closely with master weavers to see his design translated into a hand-woven tapestry. The imagery reflects Ofili’s ongoing interest in classical mythology and contemporary ‘demigods’, together with the stories, magic and colour of the Trinidadian landscape he inhabits.

The tapestry will be displayed at the National Gallery for four months, alongside Ofili’s preparatory design and sketches. 


REFLECTIONS: VAN EYCK AND THE PRE-RAPHAELITES

Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434) was one of the beacons by which the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood took its stylistic bearings in forging a radical new style of painting. Acquired by the National Gallery in 1842, the painting informed the Pre-Raphaelites’ belief in empirical observation, their ideas about draughtsmanship, colour and technique, and the ways in which objects in a picture could carry symbolic meaning.  

The exhibition will bring together for the first time the 'Arnolfini Portrait' with paintings from the Tate collection and loans from other museums, to explore the ways in which Rossetti, Millais, and Holman Hunt, among others, were influenced by the painting in their work.

The exhibition will examine early responses to the technique and style of the painting, from the first press notices to the writings of the painter and National Gallery Director, Charles Eastlake, and draws attention to the different ways in which the Pre-Raphaelite artists responded to the 'Arnolfini Portrait'. Their appropriation of the convex mirror device in van Eyck’s painting enabled them to envisage new ways of representing real and illusory space.

Focusing on how painters self-consciously referenced the portrait in exploring the psychological state of mind, the exhibition will shed light on Holman Hunt’s on-going fascination with Tennyson’s poem, ‘The Lady of Shalott’. Other works will highlight the 'Arnolfini Portrait’s' influence on depictions of domestic scenes, and how the realism of van Eyck had a bearing on the appreciation of Velazquez from the 1860s, encouraging a more painterly approach to realism.

'Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites', brings a new perspective on the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, providing a wider understanding of how van Eyck’s exceptional painting inspired the Pre-Raphaelites and their late Victorian successors.

This exhibition is organised by the National Gallery in collaboration with Tate.

MAÍNO’S ADORATIONS: HEAVEN ON EARTH

To coincide with the exhibition Beyond Caravaggio in autumn 2016, a concurrent exhibition, Maíno’s Adorations: Heaven on Earth, will show two remarkable altar paintings by the Spanish painter Fray Juan Bautista Maíno (1581–1649).

Like Caravaggio, Maíno’s family came from Lombardy – his father was a Milanese cloth merchant. He was born in Pastrana in Castile and travelled to Rome at the beginning of the 17th century and would have been among the first Spanish artists to see Caravaggio’s revolutionary paintings there. After a prolonged stay in Rome in the city, he returned to Spain where he became a Dominican friar, settling first in Toledo and then in Madrid.

The two extraordinary paintings which will be on display, 'The Adoration of the Shepherds' and 'The Adoration of the Kings' (both on loan from the Museo del Prado, Madrid) are compositional counterpoints to each other. They belong to a set of four vast canvases, which once formed part of a 'retablo' (altarpiece) for the Conventual Church of San Pedro Mártir in Toledo. Painted in 1612–14 they clearly show the lessons the artist had learnt in Rome; in which the harmonious colours and elegance of Orazio Gentileschi are combined with the more naturalistic tendencies of Caravaggio’s art.

Exhibited in Britain for the first time, these works of Fray Juan Bautista Maíno illustrate Caravaggio’s extended influence across Europe.


CAGNACCI’S REPENTANT MAGDALENE
AN ITALIAN BAROQUE MASTERPIECE FROM THE NORTON SIMON MUSEUM

Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) was born in Emilia Romagna but travelled widely throughout Italy and settled in Vienna for the last five years of his life, where he worked for Emperor Leopold I. An exceptional loan will see the exhibition of Cagnacci’s masterpiece 'The Repentant Magdalene' in the National Gallery, which has not been on display in Britain for more than thirty years.

A pupil of Guido Reni, Cagnacci was an extraordinarily original talent and one of the most accomplished Italian painters of the Baroque period. He is not represented in any public collection in this country and is therefore largely unfamiliar to the public.

The vivid treatment of light and dark heightens the drama of the scene in the painting 'The Repentant Magdalene', which Cagnacci completed around 1660. It depicts a penitent Mary Magdalene at the centre, who is rebuked by her sister Martha while a striking allegory of Virtue triumphing over Vice is depicted in the background.

This is a major loan from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, which will enable visitors to appreciate Cagnacci’s astonishing naturalism and the characteristic sensuality of his paintings, in what is unquestionably the greatest painting he ever produced.


GIOVANNI DA RIMINI: AN EARLY 14TH-CENTURY MASTERPIECE REUNITED

The exquisite and beautifully preserved painting Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints (1300–05) by Giovanni da Rimini (active 1292–1336) was purchased by the National Gallery in 2015, with the generous assistance of the American collector and philanthropist Ronald S. Lauder. This exhibition will highlight the extraordinary quality of da Rimini’s painting and illuminate its wider art-historical context. It will be the first time that the panel is on public display.

It has long been thought that 'Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints' formed part of a diptych together with a panel that depicts 'Scenes from the Life of Christ', in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome. The exhibition will show the two paintings together, a reconstruction never before seen in the UK, and introduce questions concerning the form, function, and use of these works. 

Giovanni da Rimini was one of a small group of artists who, for a short period in the early 14th century, made the Italian port city of Rimini a centre for some of the most innovative painting in Europe. Characteristic for the art of this period is its combination of emotional intensity, iconographic originality, painterly innovation, and preference for depicting narrative scenes.

Surviving paintings by artists working in Rimini in the period are rare, and works by da Rimini – the most talented of them all – are exceptionally so. 'Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints' is one of only a handful of panel paintings unanimously ascribed to him. Over seven hundred years old, the work unites the discerning details of late-Byzantine icons with a new, more expressive style.

Bringing together outstanding loans – including splendid works by other artists working in Rimini during the first four decades of the 14th century, such as Francesco da Rimini and Giovanni Baronzio, several exceptional ivory plaques – and important works from the National Gallery’s own strong collection of Italian Trecento paintings, the exhibition will illuminate a key moment in the history of art, when emphasis on observation and realism was born. 

Images - in order from the top:

Sebastiano del Piombo, Pietà, c. 1512-16. Museo Civico Viterbo © Comune di Viterbo (top and in article)
Andrea Mantegna, The Introduction of the Cult of Cybele at Rome, 1505–6 © The National Gallery, London
Tom Roberts, Allegro brio, Bourke Street west, about 1885-86, reworked 1890 Purchased 1920 by the Parliamentary Library Committee © National Gallery of Australia and National Library of Australia, Canberra
A detail of the tapestry by Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London © Chris Ofili. Photographer by Gautier Deblonde. 
John Everett Millais, Mariana, 1851 © Tate, London 2015
Juan Bautista Maíno, The Adoration of the Kings and Adoration of the Shepherds, 1612-14 © Museo del Prado, Madrid 
Guido Cagnacci, The Repentant Magdalene, after 1660 © Norton Simon Art Foundation
Giovanni da Rimini, Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, 1300–05 © The National Gallery, London

More info on all of these exhibitions from National Gallery website