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Sunflowers out of quarantine

Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London to open in Tokyo on 18 June

Issued June 2020

The National Gallery, in partnership with The Yomiuri Shimbun, is delighted to announce that the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London' will open at the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo on 8 June (and run until 18 October).

The display of an unprecedented loan of outstanding works spanning 450 years of art history was originally due to open on 3 March (until 14 June), but was postponed when the museum closed as a precautionary measure in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.

After Tokyo, 'Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London' will travel to the National Museum of Art, Osaka, opening on 3 November 2020 (and running until 31 January 2021).

This Japanese touring exhibition is made possible by a partnership with the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the largest media organisations in Japan.

Renamed 'Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London' the exhibition will conclude its tour at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 5 March – 14 June 2021.

The exhibition of some sixty paintings, ranging from the Italian Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century, provides a comprehensive insight into the history of our collection, and provides visitors in Japan and Australia with the opportunity to experience the quality and breadth of the National Gallery’s Collection. Highlights include Rembrandt’s 'Self Portrait at the Age of 34' (1640), Vermeer’s 'A Young Woman seated at a Virginal' (about 1670–2 and Vincent van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers' (1888), which will be seen in Japan for the first time.

'Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London' marks a significant moment in the Gallery’s near 200-year history. It comprises the largest selection of our paintings to tour internationally. Sharing these exceptional works with Japan and Australia will enable visitors to get to know one of the world’s greatest collections of art in the Western European tradition.

People can also explore 'Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London' without even having to leave their own homes. A 30-minute tour of the exhibition with curator Yusuke Kawase of the National Museum of Western Art and Christine Riding, Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department at the National Gallery, has been created by the British Council and can be enjoyed here -‐gallery‐online‐guided‐exhibition‐tour.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London says 'We are delighted that our exhibition will finally be seen by visitors in Tokyo, Osaka and Canberra. This is the largest group of works to travel outside the United Kingdom in our history so this is an unprecedented opportunity to share the breadth of our collection and expertise with the world. We hope we will inspire in everyone who comes to the exhibition a passion for these great paintings.' 


Exhibition organised by The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, the National Gallery, London, the National Gallery of Australia, The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo / Osaka) and Art Exhibitions Australia (Canberra).

The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

The National Museum of Western Art was established in April 1959 and was based on the Matsukata Collection focusing on the Impressionist paintings and Auguste Rodin's sculptures previously stored by the French government. The museum's purpose is to provide the public with opportunities to appreciate Western art. Since its opening, the museum, as Japan's only national institution devoted to Western art, has been involved in exhibitions, art work and document acquisition, research, restoration and conservation, education and the publication of materials related to Western art. The museum exhibits works from the Matsukata Collection as well as works created from the Renaissance to the early 20th century that have been acquired since the museum's opening. In April 2001, the National Museum of Western Art and three other national museums were merged into the umbrella organization known as Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art that consists of five museums as of 2017. In 2016, “The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement” including the National Museum of Western Art was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The National Museum of Art, Osaka

The National Museum of Art, Osaka opened on October 15, 1977 to utilise the Expo Museum of Fine Arts at Expo'70.

The main objective of the museum is "to collect, store, and publicly display the artworks and resources, and conduct the related research and other projects needed to elucidate the relationship between developments in Japanese art and art from the rest of the world." In 1978, one Part of the chemist and businessman Kaichi. Ohashi's art collection was donated to the museum, and as of that fiscal year, the total number of works jumped to 1,208. A group of over 150 copperplate prints by Yozo Hamaguchi that were acquired over a three‐year period beginning in 1983 represented a nearly complete collection of the artist's output. In November 2004, the museum relocated to a newly built facility in the Nakanoshima district of Osaka and today is one of the few completely underground art museums in the world. The museum introduces a wide range of overseas and domestic art trends and actively seeks to engage with the public’s diverse expectations and needs through its presentation of contemporary art and related activities.

National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is Australia’s leading national visual arts institution. First opened in 1982, it holds the nation’s largest and most valuable art collection. Since it was established in 1967, it has played a leadership role in shaping visual arts culture across Australia and its region and continues to develop exciting and innovative ways to engage people through its artistic, educational and public programs. Over nearly half a century of collecting, the Gallery has achieved extraordinary outcomes in acquiring and displaying Australian and international art. The national art collection comprises almost 160,000 works of art, including the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and Australia’s pre-eminent collection of modern international art.

Image caption: Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888, Oil on canvas, 92.1 x 73 cm ©The National Gallery, London. Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1924.


National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email

Publicity image of Sunflowers can be obtained from