Media Release – 30 August 2011

The National Gallery of Australia today announced that it will present the first ever exhibition in Australia dedicated to Renaissance paintings. The exhibition is titled Renaissance – 15th & 16th Century Italian Paintings from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, it will be the Gallery’s major summer exhibition, opening on 9 December 2011.

Everyone understands that the Renaissance was a golden age in which learning and the arts flourished as never before.

The exhibition will feature more than 70 paintings including works by Italian masters such as Raphael, Botticelli, Bellini and Mantegna – artists whose paintings have never been seen in Australia before.

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries of Italian art are the foundation of the grand tradition of European painting. The genius of artists such as Raphael, Botticelli and Titian is known to most Australians, but visitors to this exhibition will also discover the talents of less well-known painters such as Tura, Crivelli, Lotto, Vivarini, Carpaccio, Perugino and Moroni.

None of the works in the exhibition has ever left Europe before. The paintings are only able to be loaned by the National Gallery of Australia because the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo is renovating its display spaces and is closed. The National Gallery of Australia has organised the exhibition in partnership with the City of Bergamo and its Pinacoteca Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. The city of Bergamo is situated in the province of Lombardy in Northern Italy, near Milan.

‘Renaissance is an unparalleled opportunity for Australians to see works of extraordinary quality created by masters of the Early and High Renaissance period without having to travel overseas. There has never been an exhibition in Australia that has included fifteenth-century Italian art, and this period is barely represented in Australian collections,’ said Dr Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia.

‘Some of the most famous names in the history of art are represented in the exhibition. No paintings by Raphael, Botticelli, Bellini or Perugino have ever been shown in Australia before,’ he said.

The paintings emanate from cities and courts of Renaissance high culture. In Venice, Florence, Bergamo, Padua, Ferrara and Siena, the Church and private patrons commissioned religious scenes as well as magnificent portraits. Some of the paintings in this exhibition were originally sizeable church altarpieces, the like of which have rarely been seen in Australia, but the majority of the paintings are intimate devotional panels commissioned for private use.

Christine Dixon, Senior Curator of International Painting and Sculpture, National Gallery of Australia and Co-ordinating Curator of the exhibition said, ‘The Renaissance exhibition will provide visitors with an intriguing view of the beliefs and lifestyles of both the elite and the ordinary Italian citizen of the time. The Gallery is proud to present such a unique show which will allow visitors to appreciate the beauty of these 500 year old works which still speak to us today.’

The National Gallery of Australia is grateful to all the sponsors of the exhibition, in particular, the Australian Government which is providing support through the International Exhibitions Insurance Program which helps collecting institutions bring significant cultural objects to Australia by providing funding to purchase commercial insurance.

The ACT Government is also a Presenting Partner of the exhibition, providing $500,000 of funding through its new Special Events Fund to support the national marketing campaign.

Principal Partners of the Renaissance exhibition include the Gallery’s Art Education and Access Partner, the National Australia Bank. The new Principal Partnership with the Nine Entertainment Company includes support from the Nine Network, Ticketek, ninemsn and ACP Magazines.

The Honourable Ashley Dawson-Damer is generously supporting the exhibition through her role as Exhibition Patron. Ms Dawson-Damer has an ongoing commitment to the Gallery as a Member of the National Gallery of Australia Council and a Life Governor of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation.

The generous support of the National Gallery of Australia Council Exhibition Fund, which is funded by donations from individual Members of the National Gallery of Australia Council is also acknowledged.

Major sponsors assisting to stage the exhibition include the international investment bank Lazard, Qantas, Canberra Airport and the Yulgilbar Foundation. The Yulgilbar Foundation is once again supporting the Family Activity Room to provide children with inspiring hands-on activities and educational experiences. The Family Activity Rooms in previous exhibitions have proved to be extremely popular with families.

Other sponsors include: Media Partners JC Decaux, ABC Local Radio, The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age; accommodation partner Novotel Canberra, Catering Partner Ten and a Half and Beverage Partners Moet Hennessy Australia and Coopers Breweries.

The Gallery will have timed ticketing in place from the start of the exhibition. Visitors will be able to choose a time and day to visit the exhibition and be able to view the exhibition at their leisure once they have entered. Timed entry will minimise queues and ensure the best possible visitor experience. Tickets go on sale from Friday, 2 September and are available from the front desk of the National Gallery of Australia or online at www.ticketek.com.au

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