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NGV announces 2014 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces

Andrea di Lione
Italian 1610–1685
Elephants in a circus (Gli Elefanti in un circo) c.1640
oil on canvas
229.0 x 231.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00091)
Spanish Royal Collection

Today, Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, together with the State Government of Victoria and Art Exhibitions Australia announced next year’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado.

This Melbourne exclusive exhibition has been drawn from one of the world’s most celebrated collections, Museo del Prado, Madrid, and will showcase over 100 works comprising 70 paintings, many measuring over 3m, alongside more than 30 superb drawings – the largest number of Italian works the Museo del Prado has ever loaned to one exhibition.

The Honourable Louise Asher, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, welcomed the exhibition as a major coup for Melbourne.

“This is the first time the Prado has toured an exhibition of their renowned collection of Italian masterpieces in the world. We are thrilled that Melbourne has secured this world first – providing visitors with an unprecedented opportunity to see works that, until now, could only be seen at the Prado.

“This will be the 11th Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition at the NGV since the series began in 2004 with The Impressionists. Since then, the series has attracted more than four million visitors, and has generated over $318 million in economic benefits for the state. Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado takes the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces initiative to new heights, once again placing Melbourne firmly on the international stage.

In 2014 we look forward to welcoming Victorians, interstate and international visitors to experience these unparalleled masterpieces,” Minister Asher said.

Tony Ellwood said that the holdings of Italian art in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, are unique and unrivalled in museums outside Italy. Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado will present a rich selection of paintings and drawings spanning 300 years of Italian art, from the early sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

“The exhibition will reflect the taste of the Spanish Royal Court whose Kings and courtiers avidly collected Italian art and will present more than 70 Italian masters including Raphael, Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, the Carracci and Tiepolo.

Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado will captivate and amaze visitors, and will be complemented by a diverse range of engaging programs, lectures and events,” Mr Ellwood said.

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish ruler Emperor Charles V began a tradition of acquiring Italian paintings. Successive rulers also commissioned works directly from the artists in Italy or enticed them to Spain to work in the Royal Household. Many of these works are at the heart of the Prado’s collection and have never before left Spain.

Such is the scale of this exhibition that visitors will be able to trace the stylistic development of Italian art across three centuries drawn from Italy’s key cultural centres including Rome, Venice and Naples.

Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado will be presented alongside DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in 2014.

Melbourne Winter Masterpieces is a Victorian Government initiative.

The exhibition is organised by the Museo del Prado, Madrid, in association with the National Gallery of Victoria and Art Exhibitions Australia.

Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado will be on display at the National Gallery of Victoria from 16 May until 31 August 2014. Admission fees apply.

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