Botticelli To Braque: Masterpieces From The National Galleries Of Scotland
The landscapes, portraits and still lives allow the viewer into the world of the 18th and 19th century tradition of art. The Scottish National Gallery, established in 1850, collected works by national, European and American artists to “elevate the character of art”. A collection of iconic names in the history of 19th/20th century art, such as Botticelli, El Greco, Gainsborough, Gauguin, Matisse, Léger, Monet, Mondrian and others luminous creators are included.
This excellent exhibition, at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California, and then at the Kimbell Art Museum of Texas, includes works from three museums of the National Galleries, focusing on masterpieces of different styles and periods. Each period is represented by a unique representation of that era.
It is difficult to focus on just a few of such masterpieces, when almost each makes my heart skip a beat and renews my faith in humanity’s ability to create a visual to elevate the spirit.
The first painting in the exhibition, Botticelli’s “The Virgin Adoring The Sleeping Child”, 1495 – is a painting of serene beauty, expert craftsmanship and tenderness. The Virgin adores her sleeping, beautiful child. There is a tangible relationship between the two, created by the triangles of the symbolism, including the pink roses – a symbol of the Immaculate Conception. The serenity and power of this masterful Botticelli has been compared to a religious experience.
The ensuing galleries do not disappoint. Scottish painter, Sir Thomas Raeburn, a portrait painter of Scotland’s notable gentry, portrait painter Allan Ramsey, Thomas Gainsborough, the most noted and sought after portraitists of London’s 18th century.
And Rembrandt van Rijn, the most iconic of all 19th century names in art. The painting of “Woman In Bed” was long thought to represent a portrait of Saskia, his wife. Recent studies have suggested that this represents a biblical subject – Sarah looking fearful as her bridegroom exits the bed. Her previous husbands were all murdered in bed.
Several 19 and 20th century paintings stand out, among them Gauguin’s “Three Tahitians; Léger’s “Woman And Still Life”; and Mondrian’s “Composition With Double Line And Yellow”.
Each of these paintings offers a glimpse into the world they represent and a glimpse into the relationship of the artist to the world around them. All are a treasure to behold.