Monday, January 4, 2016

Art Gallery NSW: Part I

Being stranded in Sydney has already had its advantages.  Aside from the bonus of more family time, we are lucky to be in Sydney at the same time as The Greats exhibition at the Art Gallery NSW.

The Greats exhibition is a collection of works on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland.  Here's what I learned from the literature: The National Galleries of Scotland comprise a federation of three art museums in Edinburgh: the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.  The oldest of the three, the Scottish National Gallery, opened its doors to the public in 1859.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to look up the acquisition history of the National Galleries but got distracted by the press announcement about the purchase of Diana and Callisto by Titian that was partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  I discovered that the Heritage Lottery Fund is a UK initiative that gives "grants to sustain and transform our heritage in the UK" from  funds raised through lottery ticket sales.  Pretty cool.  I don't think we have a similar national organization in the US.  It would be pretty handy in a time when funding for a lot of art and non-profit programs are being cut.  But I digress.

Let me share some of the amazing art I saw from pre-1800s. My apologies for the quality of some of the pictures; it wasn't always possible to get smack dab in the middle front of each masterpiece.

Titian, Venus Anadyomene (Venus Rising from the Sea), c . 1520.  I believe this was the oldest painting in the exhibition and the only one we really couldn't get close to.

Rembrandt van Rijn, A woman in bed, c 164[7?]
This isn't necessarily a portrait, but might be a reference to the story of Sarah and Tobias, her eighth husband, who defeats the devil who had killed her seven previous husbands on their wedding night

Johannes Vermeer, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1654-55
This is thought to be the only painting Vermeer made of a biblical subject and much larger than most of his other works

Francesco Guardi, Piazza San Marco, 1760
I think I responded so immediately to this because I love Canaletto's painting Piazza San Marco that's at the Met. This isn't surprising since they both were famous painters of Venice.

I'll share some of the more contemporary paintings in Part II.

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