Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland

Art Life , Exhibitions Oct 26, 2015 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

Let’s begin this preview with a few artist names – Botticelli, Leonardo, El Greco, Gauguin, Poussin, Raphael. Not impressed? In that case we’ll add Cézanne, Monet, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Vermeer and Velasquez into the mix. The Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland includes more than 70 works of art, only two of which have ever been seen in Australia before.

Among some of the better-known paintings spanning the 400 years of the display are Sandro Botticelli’s The Virgin adoring the sleeping Christ child (‘The Wemyss Madonna’) c1485a work that hasn’t left United Kingdom shores for almost 170 years. Acquired by the NGS in 1999, the painting underwent a major conservation treatment to return it to its former glory. Spanish artist Diego Velazquez’ painted An Old Woman Cooking Eggs 1618, when he was still in his teens. One of a number of kitchen scenes (bodegón) painted in Seville, the artist depicts working class people going about their daily chores – still a rare thing for painters to portray at the time. Clever use of chiaroscuro and strongly focused light, highlight the faces of his subjects and the range of shapes and textures in the items spread before them. It’s been argued that the painting exists to illustrate Velasquez’ interest in showing off his skill. Two hundred and fifty years later Paul Gauguin’s post-Impressionist work Three Tahitians 1899 also engages the senses with its use of vivid colour, warm contrasts and use of symbols while the enigmatic gaze of Gauguin’s female subjects remains a topic of much debate.

Until February 14
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Pic: Paul Gauguin, ?Three Tahitians 1899, oil on canvas, 73 x 94 cm.?© Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland.

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Sharne Wolff

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