National Gallery of Australia lit up by European masterpieces

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CANBERRA, March 4 (Xinhua) -- From a Self Portrait of Rembrandt to Sunflowers of Vincent van Gogh, the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) gives people a rare chance to view some of the most celebrated paintings in the world.

An exhibition with 61 paintings from the National Gallery London spanning nearly 500 years will start on Friday. It brought together works of 56 of European history's greatest artists including Botticelli, Titian, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Turner, Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and Gauguin, and will run until June 14.

"These works are outstanding, this exhibition is a 500-year slice of artistic excellence from some of the greatest creative spirits of all time," said Nick Mitzevich, director of the NGA.

While many of the works were familiar to audiences, coordinating curator from the NGA Sally Foster noted that people should not underestimate the power of seeing them in real life. "These paintings are absolutely radiant. They light up the room. There is a reason they are considered masterpieces," she said.

The exhibition was arranged in seven parts, from Italian Renaissance painting, Dutch painting of the Golden Age, British portraiture, to France and the rise of modern art.

Of all the painting a notable piece was Sunflowers that Van Gogh painted in 1888, with various shades of yellow. Although the artist left several paintings with sunflowers as the theme, Foster told Xinhua that this was the one that Van Gogh himself thought was the best.

"He talked about the intensity of the yellows," she said. "It's also the work that his friend Paul Gauguin, the artist to who he actually painted it for, thought was the most successful. He thought it was the best painting Van Gogh had ever done."

"When you see it, you see how he painted it. And you get close to have a look, you can feel the emotional intensity and the seriousness with which he painted it," said Foster.

At the exhibition visitors are also able to see the Self Portrait at the Age of 34 by Dutch painter Rembrandt, one of the most famous of his many self portraits. The pose he took in the painting was based on historic self portraits of Albrecht Durer, Titian and Raphael. In this way Rembrandt was paying homage to and aligning himself with those famous artists in the history.

Foster said it was one of her favorite paintings at the exhibition. "I really do feel like when I am standing in front of this painting, I am looking at Rembrandt. I am looking into the eyes of the artist. And he is looking back at us. He is completely aware who he is, aware that he will go down the art history as one of the greatest. "

It is the first major international exhibition in Australia since COVID-19 forced international borders to be closed in the country last March.

Foster said it was "enormously difficult" to make this exhibition happen. "The logistics of a show like this is always huge," she said. "But just with the complication of COVID... it's amazing to watch it all come together actually in a huge relief."

The exhibition was open with limited timed-entry tickets available for 12 sessions per day.

"After a year of uncertainty and difficulties for many people, I'm glad we can play a part in bringing joy and inspiration to the community in the form of these extraordinary paintings," said Mitzevich. Enditem

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