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The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2019

Issued November 2018

Nicolas Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan, a much loved work from the National Gallery’s Collection, is travelling the UK in 2019.

The three venues for the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2019 are Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; York Art Gallery; and Auckland Castle, part of The Auckland Project, County Durham.

Over a period of one year the annual National Gallery Masterpiece Tour offers three museums and galleries outside London the opportunity to display a major work from the Gallery’s collection. The Gallery is committed to sharing the collection throughout the UK, and the Masterpiece Tour, made possible by the generous support of Christie’s, this year enables those in north and south-west England to access one of its masterpieces in their own region.

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

11 April – 7 July 2019

At Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery, Poussin’s masterpiece will be shown alongside works from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s own art collection, which includes works from the 15th century to the present day. Exploring the timeless relevance of the Classical in art and design, the display will reflect on Bath’s Roman and Georgian heritage and include works by artists as diverse as Thomas Malton, Jean Claude Nattes, and Grayson Perry.

Jon Benington, Victoria Art Gallery Manager, said:

We are delighted to have been selected as the first venue for the 2019 Masterpiece Tour, and look forward to seeing The Triumph of Pan displayed at the Victoria Art Gallery, where local residents and visitors to Bath will be able to see it free.

York Art Gallery

12 July – 22 September 2019

The next stop on the tour is York Art Gallery, founded in 1892, which has a rich collection spanning over six hundred years of Western art, from the 14th century to the present day. Highlights include early religious Italian panels, 17th-century Dutch masterpieces, Victorian narrative paintings, and 20th-century works by artists such as LS Lowry and David Hockney, as well as the largest collection of work by York-born artist William Etty RA, and a large collection of works on paper. The gallery also holds the most extensive and representative collection of studio ceramics, showcased in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA). Following a major £8 million redevelopment project which created 60 percent more display space and new gardens, the gallery reopened in 2015 and now runs a dynamic programme of temporary exhibitions of both contemporary and historic art.

Jennifer Alexander, Curator of Fine Art at York Art Gallery, said:

“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to host the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour of The Triumph of Pan by Nicolas Poussin next year, and look forward to building a collections show around this remarkable painting. Works from our collection by masters such as Dughet, Bernini, Domenichino and others will be brought together to explore the life, career and legacy of Poussin as well as the mythological characters he depicts. We are certain that this show will be hugely popular with our visitors.”

Auckland Castle, part of The Auckland Project, County Durham

5 October 2019 – 5 January 2020

The final venue in the 2019 Masterpiece Tour is Auckland Castle, one of the most important and best-preserved medieval bishops' palaces in Europe. The Castle, once home to the Prince-Bishops of Durham, is now the centrepiece of The Auckland Project, a new visitor destination centred around arts, heritage, and faith. Set to reopen in 2019, Auckland Castle is currently undergoing conservation to be returned to its original splendour, with highlights including a succession of Georgian Gothic state rooms containing delicate plasterwork, originally created in the 1700s by the renowned English architect James Wyatt.

Among the finest surviving examples of Wyatt’s Georgian Gothic in the country, they form a state processional route from the Castle entrance to the great Throne Room, where audiences with the Bishop were once held. As well as telling the story of the Prince Bishops of Durham, Auckland Castle also boasts a temporary exhibition programme and is home to 'Jacob and his Twelve Sons', an impressive cycle of paintings by the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán.  

Clare Baron, Curator at Auckland Castle, said:

"Conserving Auckland Castle as part of The Auckland Project has allowed us to open up this once private palace and ensure it can be enjoyed by the North East community, alongside the artwork housed inside. It is a privilege to be able to do the same for another masterpiece and we look forward to working with the National Gallery to display The Triumph of Pan in 2019.”   

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said:

"The Masterpiece Tour gives us the opportunity to share a great painting with people across the country. Poussin's mythological masterpiece will be shown in Bath, York, and Bishop Auckland where some fascinating and very varied programmes are planned. We are much looking forward to the Tour.”

Orlando Rock, UK Chairman of Christie’s, said:

”Christie's strongly believes in the role that art and collecting play in the world today - and in the vital importance of art being accessible to all - so we are delighted to be again supporting the National Gallery’s 2019 Masterpiece Tour. Regional museums play a vital role in enriching the cultural life of the country, so it is deeply rewarding to know that Poussin’s Arcadian vision from Cardinal Richelieu’s collection will now be enjoyed by the people of Bath, York, and Bishop Auckland.”

The Masterpiece Tour is part of the National Gallery’s commitment to promote the understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of Old Master paintings to as wide an audience as possible. This opportunity is being made possible by the generous support of Christie’s.

In 2018 Hans Holbein the Younger’s A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling went on display at The New Art Gallery Walsall; Shetland Museum & Archives; and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, with audiences of more than 45,000 across the first two tour venues. The Gallery is now inviting proposals from museums and galleries across the UK for the 2020 tour.


Nicolas Poussin

'The Triumph of Pan', 1636

This depiction of a mythical celebration shows nymphs and satyrs revelling before a statue of Pan, the god of woods and fields. Pan’s identity in this work may have been combined with that of Priapus, a deity of gardens. Both are associated with fertility and Bacchic ritual. The painting contains a number of literary and visual references; the instruments being played, the sacrificial deer, and the props in the foreground are all either attributes of Pan and Priapus, or are linked with such rites. These include panpipes, theatrical masks (comedy, tragedy, and, satire), and a shepherd’s staff. This picture was commissioned by Cardinal de Richelieu and dispatched from Rome to Paris in May 1636. With its companion, 'The Triumph of Bacchus' (Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), it was designed to form part of the decoration of the Cabinet du Roi in the Château de Richelieu. There are a number of preparatory drawings by Poussin for this painting, including some in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle.

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 Western European paintings from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo da Vinci, 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. More at

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s has worked closely with museums and public art institutions throughout its history and continues to support initiatives which increase public access to works of art. More at  

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

Opened in 1900, the Victoria Art Gallery is run by Bath & North East Somerset Council and boasts an outstanding collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. There are more than 1,500 art works on show, spanning the 15th century to the present day, including many by artists who have lived and worked in the Bath area, such as Thomas Gainsborough and Walter Sickert. Admission to the permanent displays is free and the gallery hosts an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions, as well as talks, behind the scenes tours, children’s activities and more.

York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery’s collection of paintings spans more than six hundred years and works range from 14th century Italian panels and 17th century Dutch masterpieces to Victorian narrative paintings and 20th century works by LS Lowry and David Hockney. The Gallery also has the largest repository of works by York-born artist William Etty RA and the most extensive and representative collection of studio ceramics, housed in the new Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA). The building which houses the gallery opened its doors to the public in 1879 for the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, inspired by the Great Exhibition in London of 1851. In 1892 it became the City Art Gallery. Having undergone a major redevelopment project, the Gallery reopened in 2015 with 60 percent more display space and new gardens.       

Auckland Castle, part of The Auckland Project, Bishop Auckland, County Durham

Auckland Castle has a thousand years of historic connection with England's only prince-bishop, the Bishop of Durham, who remained virtual monarch in his diocese right up to the 19th century. Now held in perpetuity as part of The Auckland Project, the Castle is currently being returned to its Georgian Gothic splendour, and will reopen in 2019. It will form the centrepiece of a new arts, faith, and heritage destination, which also includes a Faith Museum and Spanish Gallery, opening in stages over the next few years.

For further press information, please contact the National Gallery Press Office at and 020 7747 5930.

For further press information for the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, please contact: Hannah Tunstall at

For further press information for York Art Gallery, please contact: Lee Clark, Communications and Evaluation Manager on 01904 687673 or or Lauren Masterman, Marketing and Press Co-ordinator, on 01904 687351 or

For further press information for Auckland Castle, part of The Auckland Project, County Durham please contact: Alice Clifford, Flint on (0)203 4632087 or