Published: April 10, 2001
TORONTO, ONTARIO – For the first time ever, the Art Gallery of Ontario joins forces with one of the world’s greatest art institutions – The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. In May, the AGO provides the only venue for “Treasures from the Hermitage Museum, Russia: Rubens and His Age” – a breathtaking array of Old Master Paintings, drawings and decorative arts that form the cornerstone of the Hermitage’s unrivalled collections. The exhibition will run from May 5 to August 12. The museum is at 317 Dunda Street West.
“Treasures from the Hermitage Museum, Russia: Rubens and His Age” launches an exciting new relationship for the Art Gallery of Ontario with this prestigious international partner. The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hermitage will collaborate to bring our audiences no less than three outstanding exhibitions over the next few years. “Treasures from the Hermitage Museum, Russia: Rubens and His Age” marks the first time ever that a Canadian institution has worked hand-in-hand with the Hermitage to create an exhibition exclusively for the Canadian public.
Dennis Reid, the AGO’s chief curator, said, “we’ve created an exhibition which will give the public the opportunity to view rare works for the only time outside of Russia, and learn the importance of Rubens as one of Europe’s greatest Old Master painters. We have, in selecting the works for this exhibition, created for the public the feeling of Seventeenth Century Flanders.”
The State Hermitage Museum, founded in 1764, houses more than three million works of art. Much of the Hermitage’s vast collection, and most of the works of art in this exhibition, were acquired by Russian Empress Catherine the Great (r 1762-96), whose support of art was legendary. Her advisors scoured Europe and England in search of the most prestigious art collections, and with her untold riches, she was often able to purchase such collections en masse. Her residence, the immense Winter Palace, now forms the core of the Hermitage Museum.
The show will present more than 150 works by some of Europe’s most renowned artists, including paintings by the three most important artists of the Flemish Baroque period: Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), and Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678).
Rubens, one of Europe’s most acclaimed painters of his day, dominated Flemish art of the Seventeenth Century. He mastered five languages, kept the company of kings and princes, and played an active role in politics and international diplomacy. A highlight of the exhibition is his monumental and sumptuously painted allegory, “The Union of Earth and Water.” Rubens’ greatest versatility as an artist is represented by 15 paintings, including two beautiful landscape views and two large oil sketches for altarpieces. Never before have Canadian audiences had the chance to view such an astonishing number of Rubens’ works together.
“Treasures from the Hermitage, Russia: Rubens and His Age” also features ten portraits by van Dyck, the most accomplished court painter of the day. There will be a display of richly decorated objects that reflect the sophisticated collecting practices of Seventeenth Century Flanders, including goldsmiths’ work, jewelry and cameos, arms and armor, ivory carvings, bronze sculptures, glass, enamels and scientific instruments. Among these works are several designed, commissioned, or owned by Rubens himself.
“Treasures from the Hermitage, Russia: Rubens and His Age” is the first of the three exhibitions that will travel to the AGO. Following will be “L’Invitation au Voyage: Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso from the State Hermitage Museum, Russia,” and “Art of Imperial Russia: Masterworks from the Court of the Czars.”
In return, the AGO will send an exhibition of Canadian art, “Land of Promise: The North in Canadian Art,” to the Hermitage in 2001. This exhibition will feature significant works by the Group of Seven, Inuit art and the leading edge works from Canadian contemporary artists. “Land of Promise: The North in Canadian Art” marks the first time an exhibition that includes historical, Inuit and contemporary art will be shown outside Canada.
For tickets, 800-461-3333.
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