The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is one of a dozen partner venues chosen to display 12 ‘National Treasures’ from May 10 next year to celebrate the 200th birthday of the National Gallery.
National Treasures is a key strand of the programme celebrating the gallery’s bicentenary. Each partner venue will receive a masterpiece from the gallery’s collection and will curate around it, involving interpretation, community engagement and events or exhibitions.
The National Library of Wales will be loaned The Stonemason’s Yard, an oil on canvas painted by Canaletto (1697-1768) in about 1725.
Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, was born in Venice, the son of a theatrical scene painter. He was very influential, famed for his precisely depicted and evocative views of the city.
Canaletto’s early pictures for local patrons are his most accomplished: these carefully designed, individual, and atmospheric studies include ‘The Stonemason’s Yard’.
He found that providing formulaic paintings for tourists was very lucrative. Still highly skilled works, they were produced by him often in collaboration with an organised workshop.
Canaletto was favoured by English collectors and visited England repeatedly between 1746-‘56, painting works like ‘Eton College’.
For the duration of the displays, 35 million people, more than half the UK population, will be within an hour’s journey of a National Gallery masterpiece.
The paintings will be loaned for between two and four months, with the final displays concluding on September 10 next year.
The opening of National Treasures around the UK kickstarts a year of bicentenary celebrations, where activities showcase the gallery across the nation.
Gabriele Finaldi, National Gallery director, said:
“In our bicentenary year, we want to reaffirm our role as the nation’s gallery. Our collection belongs to the UK public and we’re very pleased to work with such an exciting range of partner venues to help realise this.
“These exhibitions provide a unique opportunity for people all over the country to see up close some of the greatest works from the history of western art.”