The National Gallery will send some of its best masterpieces across the UK for its 200th anniversary.
Twelve famous works of art, such as Constable’s The Hay Wain, Botticelli’s Venus and Mars and Renoir’s The Umbrellas travel all over the UK.
Simultaneous exhibitions will open on May 10, 2024 in 12 institutions, setting more than half the population within an hour of one of the masterpieces.
Some of the paintings have never been borrowed before the gallery.
The 95 95 million plans also include a successful Van Gogh exhibition, the creation of a new digital gallery to make the collection accessible worldwide, a road trip of art workshops to the UK and a renovation of the National Gallery Square Trafalgar, London.
Turner’s award-winning artist Jeremy Deller has been commissioned to create a work celebrating 200 years of public art.
There will also be a “surprise” announcement closer to 200 years related to one of the National Gallery’s most famous works, Van Gogh Sunflowers.
Secretary of Culture Nadine Dorries said art is “for all of us to share, not just for the privileged.”
“We have lost touch with this particular idea over the years, but it is something that the National Gallery really understands and it is the central issue that guides me as secretary of culture,” he said. “I want everyone to have access to our world-class art and culture, no matter who they are or where they come from.”
The 12 National Treasures
A young woman standing in a Virginal – Vermeer
Dinner at Emmaus – Caravaggio
Aphrodite’s toilet – Velázquez
The Fighting Temeraire – JMW Turner
The Water-Lily Pond – Monet
Self-portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria – Artemisia Gentileschi
The Umbrellas – Renoir
The Hay Wain – Policeman
Hammer – Stubbs
Venus and Mars – Botticelli
The Wilton diptych – unknown
Self-portrait at the age of 34 – Rembrandt
The National Gallery was founded almost 200 years ago by Parliament to create a collection of paintings for public use. But for much of the last two centuries, the only way the public could see art was in London in person.
The entire collection has been moved only once, to protect it from German bombs instead of engaging a wider audience. During World War II, the paintings were moved to temporary locations in Wales before the 2,000 photographs were hidden in a former quarry in Snowdonia for safekeeping.
The Manod quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd was almost invulnerable to bombing. In a top-secret affair, works by Turner, da Vinci, Van Dyck and other Old Masters were packaged in airtight, climate-controlled brick huts in a huge cave in the heart of Mount Manod until the end of the war.
However, it took decades for a National Gallery masterpiece to return to Wales. As the foundation lent more and more projects to others, it was sometimes more likely that you would see one of the gallery’s Rembrandt or Monets in a gallery abroad than in a gallery in the UK, despite the fact that British taxpayers fund and co-own it. collection.
In recent decades, the gallery has intensified its efforts to distribute its art more widely throughout the country. After buying a self-portrait of the famous 17th century Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi in 2018, the painting went on tour in the UK, not to museums and galleries, but to places where different kinds of people could see it.
The project took time in a general practitioner in Yorkshire, a girls’ school in Newcastle, a library in Glasgow and even a women’s prison in Surrey.
The 12 masterpieces that are part of the plans for the 200 years will be sent to 12 museums and galleries in the four nations of the United Kingdom. Two of the works have never been borrowed again from the National Gallery. Botticelli’s Venus and Mars and the 14th-century Wilton diptych, one of the best images ever created in the United Kingdom, will appear for the first time in the history of the National Gallery outside London.
But with only 12 paintings from a collection that now totally borrows about 2,400 for NG200: National Treasures, the gallery’s designs could be accused of being small-scale in perspective.
And out of the 12 borrowers from May 2024, only one is a woman.
Artemisia Gentileschi’s self-portrait as St. Catherine of Alexandria will once again be on the streets, a sign considered by the gallery as one of her most important and popular artists.
Art institutions around the world are trying to address the lack of female artists in their collections. The National Gallery, which houses works from 1400 to 1900, has already been found to have a particular problem, according to a recent study by Murray Edwards College in Cambridge that is exclusively female. Only about 1% of the works in the collection are by female artists.
Dorothy Byrne, president of Murray Edwards, said the “familiar woman” of the 12 artists on the list reflected the issues revealed by her college research. He said the other paintings depicted women “as virgins, loving goddesses and maids”, adding: “This is a horrible representation of women to be sent across the country.”
The National Gallery is a historical collection dating back to a time when women artists were not recognized, although it regularly displays the work of contemporary women artists in its galleries. He points out that NG200: National Treasures is part of a larger project to showcase his art to the public in the UK and around the world for his anniversary.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, said it was “the most ambitious, national program we have ever undertaken”.
It is “the only approach for the whole nation,” he said, adding: “A significant portion of the activities are in peripheral locations and are mostly free. We also want to reach out globally and promote the UK.”
The program will open in May 2024. The 12 places that will host the 12 masterpieces will be announced in due course.