2016 January: James Dawnay is new Chairman of Hermitage Foundation UK

James Dawnay succeeded Brian Allen as Chairman of the Hermitage Foundation UK at the start of 2016. Dr Allen, former Director of The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, remains a valued trustee.

James Dawnay has combined a career in banking with a devotion to the arts. Formerly a director of SG Warburg, James is currently chairman of CCLA Investment Management. He was a trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland for eight years, is a trustee of the Penicuik House Preservation Trust and chairman of the Biggar Museum Trust. The Biggar Museum was opened by the Princess Royal in October, leaving James free to turn his attention to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

2016: New Discoveries of Paintings by Rubens and Follower of Bosch

Thanks to the opening of more and more space for storage and display, the Hermitage has been able to get many works out of store and take a fresh look at them. After profound study and carefully considered conservation, two paintings proved to be fascinating and important additions to our knowledge of the history of art.

First came the identification of a large Crucifixion formerly said to be a copy as an original work by Rubens, left unfinished and thought lost. The second work is a very rare mid-sixteenth century copy of the central panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights, the best known work by Hieronymus Bosch.

 

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)

The Crucifixion. c. 1610

Oil on canvas; 482.5 x 277.5 cm

In 2011 this vast canvas was removed from storage, where it had been kept on a roll, unseen since 1951. The painting had been acquired by Catherine the Great and send to the Alexander Nevsky Monstery, but when it returned to the Hermitage in the twentieth century it was seen as a copy. Conservation revealed the quality of the painting and documentary research made it possible to identify it with anunfinished picture on canvas recorded in the October 1642 posthumous inventory of the property of Antwerp merchant and artist Herman de Neyt. Although the image relates to the smaller central panel of the Moretus Triptych in Antwerp Cathedral (1612), it clearly predates it and should be dated c. 1610.

This is a major addition to the corpus of works by Rubens.

    

Follower of Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516)

The Garden of Earthly Delights. 1556–1568 (?)

Oil on panel

Relatively few original works by Hieronymus Bosch are known today – just a couple of dozen paintings and a handful of drawings – but they are enough to confirm his incredible imagination and skill. The newly restored Hermitage painting repeats the central panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights (1503–15; Prado, Madrid). In the triptych this scene is set between depictions of Paradise and The Last Judgment, the artist warning the viewer that when life on earth comes to an end, everyone will be equal at the Day of Judgment. But the Hermitage picture is not just a copy, since it reflects changes in style that occurred in the forty years since the death of Bosch: figures have a greater sense of mass and volume, the manner is more painterly, contrasting with the drier quality of Bosch’s own work. Most importantly, the painting demonstrates the enduring power of Bosch’s inventive images.

2015 December: Goya Friends Event

GOYA: THE PORTRAITS - PRIVATE VIEW

The Duchess of Alba, New York Hispanic Society, New York

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) is one of Spain's most celebrated artists.  He was considered a supremely gifted portrait painter who took the genre of portraiture to new heights.  Deeply affected by his deafness, the result of serious illness in his mid-40s, Goya was able to communicate through portraiture. Goya's reputation grew quickly after he secured his first important portrait commission from Spain's Prime Minister, Count Floridablanca.  Ambitious and proud of his status, he gained patrons from the entire breadth of Spanish society; from the royal family and aristrocrats, from intellectuals, politicians and military figures, and of course he painted his own friends and family.  Goya: The Portraits traces Goya's career from his first commission to his more intimate later works during his self-imposed exile in France - a career that spanned revolution and restoration, war with France and the cultural upheaval of the Spanish Enlightenment.