15 October 2012
Angels and Aristocrats: Early European art in New Zealand public collections, an exhibition of European paintings spanning five centuries from about 1340 to 1830, opens at Te Papa on 20 October 2012. The exhibition is developed as a touring exhibition from Auckland Art Gallery
Toi o Tāmaki which comprises a selection of works from Mary Kisler’s book of the same name, published in 2010.
Divided into themes of religious art, landscape art, narrative paintings and portraiture, Angels and Aristocrats is drawn from the collections of Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa, Christchurch Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery.
The exhibition begins with small medieval panels of saints alongside grand baroque works such as Guido Reni’s St Sebastian, through to depictions of the Roman campagna and the rich landscapes of the Netherlands, exemplified in paintings by Claude Lorraine and Aelbert Cuyp.
Genre painting focuses on all aspects of human behaviour, whether heroic and humble. In Pieter Breughel the Younger’s Village Fair, for example, (ostensibly a celebration of two village saints, St Anthony and St Hubert) rich and poor celebrate the kermesse, where feasting and drinking (and falling drunk among the chickens) allowed brief respite from everyday drudgery.
The power of portraiture to ‘keep the memory alive’, whether through formal portraits, or the careful rendering of a loved one’s features, is strongly represented by paintings from the 17th century to the early 19th century. The illegitimate but widely admired Maria, Countess Waldegrave (Dunedin) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, sits in the company of Thomas Gainsborough’s George Lavington, Bishop of Exeter, whose grim expression suggests he certainly would not approve.
The core touring exhibition includes 52 paintings drawn from the collections of Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa, Christchurch Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery. While at Te Papa Angels and Aristocrats will include 12 extra genre and classical landscape paintings, including George Dawe’s enormous Genevieve, painted in response to Coleridge’s famous romantic poem Love.
Angels and Aristocrats: Early European art in New Zealand public collections is at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa from 20 October 2012 – 27 January 2013. Visit www.tepapa.govt.nz/angels
Download a printable version (PDF, 92kB)
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Angels and Aristocrats: Early European Art in New Zealand Public Collectionsis an Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki touring exhibition curated by Mary Kisler, Senior Curator, Mackelvie Collection, International Art.