'Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London' opens at Hong Kong Palace Museum on 22 November 2023
(21 November 2023, Hong Kong)
Hong Kong is the third stop of the National Gallery, London’s Asia Tour, showcasing 52 paintings by celebrated European artists such as Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Goya, Turner, Constable, Monet, and Van Gogh. New exhibition reinforces HKPM’s mission to advance dialogue among world cultures and civilisations.
The Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) and the National Gallery, London (National Gallery) today to unveil the special exhibition 'Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London'. The first showcase of the Gallery’s prestigious painting collection in Hong Kong, the exhibition features 52 of the world’s finest masterpieces by 50 influential artists, spanning more than 400 years of Western art history. AIA Hong Kong & Macau is the Lead Sponsor of this exhibition, and Centurion from American Express is the Major Sponsor. The exhibition will be open to the public from tomorrow (22 November 2023) to 11 April 2024.
The opening ceremony was held at the HKPM today, officiated by Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR); Brian Davidson CMG, British Consul General to Hong Kong; Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London; Henry Tang, Chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) Board; Joe Wong, Permanent Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Government of the HKSAR; Winnie Tam, Chairman of the HKPM Board; Jane Knowles, Director of Public Engagement of the National Gallery, London; Betty Fung, Chief Executive Officer of the WKCDA, and Dr Louis Ng, Museum Director of the HKPM.
Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the Government of the HKSAR, said, 'This spectacular, extraordinary cultural event is a very timely one, with Hong Kong embarking on its quest to become an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange, a unique positioning supported by the Central Government. This exhibition is one of the major projects supported by our Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund, which was launched earlier this year to support international large-scale arts and cultural events in Hong Kong. Through this exhibition and many other significant projects, we aim to foster exchange and dialogue across world civilisations, making Hong Kong a unique international cultural hub and cultural tourism destination.'
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said, 'I am very pleased that the National Gallery is visiting Hong Kong with a superb representation of paintings by celebrated European artists. With this exhibition we are continuing to build on our highly successful previous tour of Australia and Japan and are now reaching new audiences across Asia. The Gallery has an important role to play in promoting the UK’s globally recognised position as a centre for culture and the arts, and we remain passionately committed to cultural exchange internationally. This tour demonstrates the continued interest of audiences from around the world in the European tradition and the world-renowned collection we are custodians of here at the National Gallery. We were delighted so many people enjoyed this exhibition in Shanghai and Seoul, and we are now looking forward to introducing it to visitors in Hong Kong.'
Henry Tang, Chairman of the Board of WKCDA, said, 'It is our tremendous honour to be the first cultural institution in Hong Kong to present the National Gallery’s prestigious painting collection. The opening of the exhibition exemplifies our global vision—not only to bring Chinese culture to the world but also bridge diverse civilisations through intercultural dialogue. We encourage visitors to view these spectacular paintings from the National Gallery as well as the masterpieces from the Palace Museum in the other galleries of the HKPM, exploring the dialogue between Western and Chinese art and enjoying the ingenuity of both European and Chinese painters.'
Presenting 52 paintings in six thematic sections with fresh curatorial approach
The National Gallery’s preparation for its Bicentenary celebrations in 2024 has afforded the HKPM the unprecedented opportunity to be the third venue for the 2023 Asia tour of the legendary paintings otherwise only on view in London. The exhibition in Hong Kong follows the successful runs at the Shanghai Museum and the National Museum of Korea earlier this year.
The 52 masterpieces on view, dating to the 15th to the early 20th century, encompass the most significant turning points in the history of Western art, from the Renaissance to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, represented by some of the world’s most revered artists, including Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Goya, Turner, Constable, Monet, and Van Gogh.
'Masterpieces from the National Gallery' is in essence a 'National Gallery in miniature' — a selection representative of the Gallery’s history which offers audiences a concise and beautiful history of Western art as uniquely told by the Gallery’s collection. Specially curated by the HKPM, it presents the captivating evolution of Western painting via six thematic sections featuring sacred images, mythological stories, everyday scenes, portraiture, landscapes, and paintings of modern life. Visitors will see these masterpieces in a new light as the exhibition draws their attention to the global connections found in the precious pigments used, the rare and novel objects depicted, and the diverse sources of artistic inspiration drawn upon.
Key pieces include Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius (about 1500) by Sandro Botticelli (about 1445-1510); The Garvagh Madonna (about 1510–1511) by Raphael (1483–1520); Boy Bitten by a Lizard (about 1594–1595) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610); Self-Portrait at the Age of 63 (1669) by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669); Portrait of Charles William Lambton (“The Red Boy”, 1825) by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830); The Parting of Hero and Leander (before 1837) by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); Long Grass with Butterflies (1890) by Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890); and Irises (about 1914–1917) by Claude Monet (1840–1926).
A multisensory exploration of Western art
The exhibition is enriched with delightful music, informative videos, and other multimedia elements. One of the highlights is an innovative Van Gogh interactive installation, inspired by the masterpiece, Long Grass with Butterflies by Van Gogh. Butterflies dance to the visitors’ movements in an enchanting environment of long, green grass. The HKPM has collaborated with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra on an in-gallery musical journey complementing each section of the exhibition, featuring beloved classics by Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Mahler, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, and Sibelius. Also unique to the HKPM’s presentation is the final part of the exhibition, which features the scientific research done by conservators at the National Gallery on a selection of paintings. Visitors will be fascinated by the layers of secrets hidden beneath the surface that have been revealed through X-ray fluorescence, pigment analysis, and other technologies. Come and explore the connections between art and science, from the extensive changes made to the paintings by the artists and the original colour of the works, to stories about the pigments used.
Strengthening visitor connection through extensive public engagement programmes
In conjunction with the special exhibition, the HKPM will offer a range of educational programmes, including a series of public talks. The first public talk, 'Nearly 200 Years Old: The National Gallery, ‘A Collection for the Use of the Public'', on 23 Nov (Thursday) at the HKPM by Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, is part of the HKPM Special Exhibition Talk Series. The HKPM will also be screening six films that tell stories about artists and their famous paintings. The screening dates will be announced in due course. A 'children’s trail' has been laid throughout the exhibition with wall texts and additional content designed to engage young children and students.
Additionally, the HKPM’s exhibition publication Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from The National Gallery, London (Traditional Chinese and English editions) will be available at the gift shop ART EXPRESS by The Commercial Press on G/F of the Museum. An extensive range of over 100 themed products, ranging from stationery, home fragrances, and art prints to fashion accessories from the National Gallery will be available for purchase at the shop.
This exhibition is one of the events supported by the Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund (Mega ACE Fund) in 2023, a fund launched by the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau of the HKSAR Government to support international and large-scale arts and cultural events in Hong Kong. 'Masterpieces from the National Gallery' will be on view in Gallery 9 of the HKPM from 22 November 2023 to 11 April 2024. Tickets for this exhibition, which also grant access to all the thematic exhibitions in Galleries 1–7, are priced at HK$150 for adults and HK$75 for concessions* and are available for sale through the West Kowloon Cultural District’s online ticketing platforms and ticketing partners.
The HKPM’s other special exhibition 'Gazing at Sanxingdui: New Archaeological Discoveries in Sichuan' is on view in Gallery 8 from 27 September 2023 to 8 January 2024. A special combo ticket, priced at HK$240 for adults and HK$120 for concessions*, will be available to visitors who would like to visit the special exhibitions in both Gallery 8 and Gallery 9 as well as the thematic exhibitions in Galleries 1 to 7 (which features the Palace Museum treasures and other collections) on the same day. Please refer to the Museum’s website for more information.
*Concessions are available to children aged 7 to 11, full-time students, seniors aged 60 and above, persons with disabilities (with one companion), and CSSA recipients.
Notes to editors
About the National Gallery
The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cezanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at nationalgallery.org.uk
More information and book tickets for events at nationalgallery.org.uk
The National Gallery
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