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Baroque Masterworks from the National Gallery of Canada

December 15, 2006 - December 15, 2006

The Art Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of 12 precious Baroque masterwork paintings from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada by the likes of Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Nicholas Poussin. Baroque Masterworks from the National Gallery of Canada features Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch and Flemish paintings dating from 1600 to 1750 arising from different social, political and religious climates. As a result of their age, rarity and historical importance, paintings such as these seldom travel. This exhibition provides a unique opportunity for Canadians to see these national treasures. It is the latest instalment of the National Gallery’s “Masterworks Series” that brings works from their permanent collection to communities across Canada. This will be the third exhibition that has traveled to Victoria, from  the National Gallery which has included Masterworks of French Realism from last winter and Post-Impressionist Masterworks featured in 2002.

Many artists of the Baroque period appealed to the viewer’s senses by representing dramatic narratives in powerful ways, effectively stirring their emotions and challenging their intellect at the same time. They exploited the dramatic effects of arranging their compositions off-centre and punctuating them with bold contrasts of light and dark. This period also saw the rise of landscape painting as its own genre, with classical and pastoral landscapes serving as a setting for figurative stories.

The twelve masterworks brought together here reveal the growing number of functions paintings came to perform during the seventeenth century, from traditional altarpieces and private devotional paintings, to works of art appropriate in size and subject for the middleclass and wealthy home. The exhibition reveals that, even though Baroque art is characterised by an absence of stylistic unity, the Baroque era produced some unusually powerful images that still speak to us vividly today.

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