LONDON.- Spanning over five hundred years of art history, Painters’ Paintings presents more than eighty works, which were once in the possession of great painters: pictures that artists were given or chose to acquire, works they lived with and were inspired by. This is an exceptional opportunity to glimpse inside the private world of these painters and to understand the motivations of artists as collectors of paintings.
The inspiration for this exhibition is a painter’s painting: Corot’s Italian Woman, left to the nation by Lucian Freud following his death in 2011. Freud had bought the 'Italian Woman' 10 years earlier, no doubt drawn to its solid brushwork and intense physical presence. A major work in its own right, the painting demands to be considered in the light of Freud’s achievements, as a painter who tackled the representation of the human figure with vigour comparable to Corot’s.
In his will, Freud stated that he wanted to leave the painting to the nation as a thank you for welcoming his family so warmly when they arrived in the UK as refugees fleeing the Nazis. He also stipulated that the painting’s new home should be the National Gallery, where it could be enjoyed by future generations.
Anne Robbins, Curator of 'Painters’ Paintings' says: “Since its acquisition the painting’s notable provenance has attracted considerable attention – in fact the picture is often appraised in the light of Freud’s own achievements, almost eclipsing the intrinsic merits of Corot’s canvas. It made us start considering questions such as which paintings do artists choose to hang on their own walls? How do the works of art they have in their homes and studios influence their personal creative journeys? What can we learn about painters from their collection of paintings? 'Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck' is the result.”
The National Gallery holds a number of important paintings which, like the Corot, once belonged to celebrated painters: Van Dyck’s Titian; Reynolds’s Rembrandt, and Matisse’s Degas among many others. 'Painters’ Paintings' is organised as a series of case studies each devoted to a particular painter-collector: Freud, Matisse, Degas, Leighton, Watts, Lawrence, Reynolds, and Van Dyck.
Paul Cézanne, 'L’Après-Midi à Naples', 1876-1877. Oil on canvas, 30 × 40 cm. Private collection. © Photo courtesy of the owner
'Painters’ Paintings' explores the motivations of these artists – as patrons, rivals, speculators - to collect paintings. The exhibition looks at the significance of these works of art for the painters who owned them - as tokens of friendship, status symbols, models to emulate, cherished possessions, financial investments or sources of inspiration.
Works from these artists’ collections are juxtaposed with a number of their own paintings, highlighting the connections between their own creative production and the art they lived with. These pairings and confrontations shed new light on both the paintings and the creative process of the painters who owned them, creating a dynamic and original dialogue between possession and painterly creation.
Frank Auerbach, 'Birthday card from Frank Auerbach to Lucian Freud', 2002. The Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art. Photo Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Half the works in the exhibition are loans from public and private collections, from New York and Philadelphia to Copenhagen and Paris. A number of them have not been seen in public for several decades.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery says: “Artists by definition live with their own pictures, but what motivates them to possess works by other painters, be they contemporaries – friends or rivals – or older masters? The exhibition looks for the answers in the collecting of Freud, Matisse, Degas, Leighton, Watts, Lawrence, Reynolds, and Van Dyck'.
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, 'Portrait of a Woman: Head Resting on One Hand', after 1918. Bronze. Leeds Museums and Galleries (Leeds Art Gallery). © Leeds Museums and Galleries / Bridgeman Images
John Constable, 'Portrait of Laura Moubray', 1808. Oil on canvas, 44.5 × 35.5 cm. Scottish National Gallery. © National Galleries of Scotland
Henri Matisse, 'Self Portrait', 1918. Oil on canvas, 65 × 54 cm. Paris, musée d'Orsay, dépôt au musée départemental Henri Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, donation de Mme Jean Matisse, 1979. © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2016; photo Philip Bernard
Henri Matisse, 'La Liseuse Distraite (The Inattentive Reader)', 1919. Oil on canvas, 73 × 92.4 cm. Tate, London. © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2016; photo Tate 2016
Pablo Picasso, 'Portrait of a Woman: Dora Maar', 20 January 1942. Gouache on paper, 40.5 × 30.3 cm. Private collection, United Kingdom. © Photo courtesy of the owner/Christie's, London © Succession Picasso/DACS London 2016
Pablo Picasso, 'Portrait of Dora Maar', 1942. Oil on canvas, 61.6 × 50.5 cm. Courtesy The Elkon Gallery, New York City. © Photo courtesy of the owner. © Succession Picasso/DACS 2016.
Paul Cézanne, 'Madame Cézanne', 1886-1887. Oil on canvas, 46.8 × 38.9 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Samuel S. White 3rd and Vera White Collection, 1967. © Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Paul Gauguin, 'Young Man with a Flower behind his Ear', 1891. Oil on canvas, 45.7 × 33.3 cm. Property from a distinguished Private Collection, courtesy of Christie's. © Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images
Paul Signac , 'La Maison verte, Venise', 1905. Oil on canvas, 46 × 55.2 cm. Private collection. © Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images
Alfred Sisley, 'The Flood. Banks of the Seine, Bougival', 1873. Oil on canvas, 50 x 65.5 cm. Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen. © Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen / Photo: Anders Sune Berg
Camille Pissarro, 'Landscape at Pontoise', 1872. Oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Bequeathed by Montague Shearman through the Contemporary Art Society, 1940. © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
Edouard Manet, 'Woman with a Cat', about 1880-2. Oil on canvas, 92.1 x 73 cm. Tate: Purchased 1918. © Tate, London. Photo The National Gallery, London.
Edouard Manet, 'The Execution of Maximilian', about 1867-8. Oil on canvas, 193 x 284 cm. © The National Gallery, London.
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, 'Self Portrait', 1855. Oil on paper laid on canvas, 81.3 × 64.5 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris (RF 2649). © Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, 'Self Portrait', 1857-1858. Oil on paper, 47 x 32 cm. The Tia Collection. © James Hart
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, 'Study of a Sky', about 1869. Pastel on grey-blue paper, 29 × 48 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski.
Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas, 'Combing the Hair ('La Coiffure')', about 1896. Oil on canvas, 114.3 x 146.7 cm. © The National Gallery, London.
Paul Cézanne, 'Bather with Outstretched Arm (study)', 1883-1885. Oil on canvas 33 x 24 cm. Collection Jasper Johns. © Photograph by Dorothy Zeidman
Paul Cézanne, 'Three Bathers', 1879-1882. Oil on canvas, 55 × 52 cm. Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris © Petit Palais / Roger-Viollet
Paul Cézanne, 'L’Après-Midi à Naples', 1876-1877. Oil on canvas, 30 × 40 cm. Private collection © Photo courtesy of the owner
Paul Gauguin, 'A Vase of Flowers', 1896. Oil on canvas, 64 x 74 cm. © The National Gallery, London.
Eugène Delacroix, 'Study of the sky at sunset', 1849-1850. Pastel and coloured chalk on blue paper, 22.8 × 26.8 cm. The British Museum, London. © The Trustees of The British Museum
Eugène Delacroix, 'Hercules rescuing Hesione, study for the lunette in the Salon de la Paix, Hôtel de Ville', 1852. Oil on canvas, 24.5 × 47.5 cm. Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen. © Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen / photo: Pernille Klemp
Eugène Delacroix, 'The Muse of Orpheus', 1845-1847. Pen and ink heightened with oil on paper laid down on canvas, 21.3 × 25.5 cm. The Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Jacques-Emile Blanche, 'Francis Poictevin', 1887. Oil on canvas, 26.7 x 16.5 cm. Tate: Presented by Miss Hilda Trevelyan 1939. © Tate, London. Photo The National Gallery, London.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 'Monsieur de Norvins', 1811-12. Oil on canvas, laid down on panel, 97.2 x 78.7 cm. © The National Gallery, London.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 'Angelica saved by Ruggiero', 1819-39. Oil on canvas, 47.6 x 39.4 cm. © The National Gallery, London.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 'Dante offering his Works to Homer (study for the Apotheosis of Homer)', about 1827 and about 1864-5. Oil on canvas on panel, 38 × 35.5 cm, Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen © Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen / photo: Pernille Klemp
George Frederic Watts, Self Portrait in a Red Robe, about 1853. Oil on canvas, 154.9 × 74.9 cm. Frame: 179 × 100.5 × 9.5 cm © Watts Gallery (COMWG2014.10)
George Frederic Watts, Autumn, 1901-1903. Oil on canvas, 134.6 × 73.7 cm © Watts Gallery (COMWG.78)
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 'The Four Times of Day: Noon', about 1858. Oil on wood, 142.2 x 62.2 cm. Bought with the assistance of the Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation), 2014 © The National Gallery, London.
Frederic, Lord Leighton, 'Self Portrait', 1882. Oil on canvas, 34.5 × 29.7 cm © Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections
Frederic, Lord Leighton, Aynhoe Park, 1860s. Oil on canvas, 34.3 × 40.6 cm. Lent from a private collection, courtesy of The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. © Photo courtesy of the owner
Sir Thomas Lawrence, 'Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet, John Baring, and Charles Wall', 1806-1807. Oil on canvas, 156 × 226 cm. Private collection © Photo courtesy of the owner.
Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Self Portrait', about 1780. Oil on panel, 127 × 101.6 cm. Lent by the Royal Academy of Arts, London (03/1394) © Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond.
Anthony van Dyck, 'Self Portrait', about 1629. Oil on canvas, 80 × 61 cm. Lent Anonymously. © Photo courtesy of the owner.
Anthony van Dyck, 'Thomas Killigrew and William, Lord Crofts (?)', 1638. Oil on canvas, 132.9 × 144.1 cm. The Royal Collection Trust /HM QUEEN ELIZABETH II (RCIN 407426). Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Style of Anthony van Dyck, 'The Horses of Achilles', 1635-45. Oil on canvas, 105.5 x 91.5 cm © The National Gallery, London
Guido Reni, 'The Coronation of the Virgin', About 1607. Oil on copper, 66.6 x 48.8 cm © The National Gallery, London
Rembrandt, 'Lamentation over the Dead Christ', about 1634-1635. Pen and brown ink and brown wash, with red and perhaps some black chalk, reworked in oils ‘en grisaille’; framing lines in thin black oil paint; on paper, 21.6 × 25.4 cm. © The British Museum, London (Oo,9.103)
Jacopo Tinteretto, 'Jupiter and Semele', about 1545. Oil on spruce, 22.7 x 65.4 cm © The National Gallery, London.
Titian, 'The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross', Begun about 1540-3, completed about 1550-60. Oil on canvas, 206.1 x 288.5 cm © The National Gallery, London.
Titian, 'Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo', about 1510. Oil on canvas, 81.2 x 66.3 cm © The National Gallery, London.
Raphael, 'An Allegory (‘Vision of a Knight’)', about 1504. Oil on poplar, 17.1 x 17.3 cm. © The National Gallery, London.
Giovanni Bellini, 'The Agony in the Garden', about 1465. Egg on wood, 81.3 x 127 cm © The National Gallery, London.