Behind the closed doors of the main Gallery, the Grade I listed ceiling with its ornate plasterwork and casts of the Parthenon Frieze at lower lever have been cleaned, restored and repainted revealing the crisp decorative detail. In the gallery immense grandeur and an intimacy of scale come together remarkably. At eye-level, the transformation is no less impressive. Gallery walls, clad in red fabric since the 1970s, have been stripped and re-covered with a sumptuous new wall covering that echoes the colour adopted by Basevi’s successor, Edward M Barry (1830-1880), for the magnificent Founder’s Entrance. Seeing paintings by Anthony Van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Lawrence in this room makes great masterpieces truly unforgettable.
The gallery has been rehung under the Directorship of Luke Syson, formerly of The National Gallery and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “A highlight of the new hang will be a magnificent group of floor to ceiling portraits by Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), and Daniel Mytens (c. 1590- 1647/48) - the dominant painters at the English court in the first decades of the 17th century,” says Syson, adding “they have been generously lent by the Trustees of the Rt. Hon. Olive, Countess Fitzwilliam’s Chattels Settlement, by permission of Lady Juliet Tadgell. Seeing them at the Fitz is truly thrilling.”
will launch the Fitz’s new annual theme of Sensual/Virtual, introduced by Luke Syson. Many of the exhibits on show in the gallery will have new ‘behind the label’ stories where visitors will be able to scan a QR code or tap their smart phone on an NFC chip to access new and complementary information.
The Fitzwilliam Museum is a glittering jewel in the crown of the University of Cambridge. Designed by the architect George Basevi (1794-1845), it is widely considered to be one of the finest museum interiors in Britain. One distinguished former director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington called the Fitz “the greatest small Museum in the world.”
Sensual/Virtual is further explored through
, opening on Tuesday 8th October. The show asks ‘can we listen to a painting?’ This collaborative exhibition features objects from three of the Museum’s five departments. Notable exhibits are the five autograph musical manuscripts by Brahms, Stravinsky, Handel and Handel enthusiast, Lord Fitzwilliam, the founder of the Fitzwilliam. The show also features works by Rossetti, Renoir and Picasso, which demonstrate the ways in which artists and composers have engaged in a dialogue between sight and sound.
LATE: Gallery Party
runs from 19:30-21:00 on Monday, 7 October. Admission is free and entry is via the main entrance to the museum.
Adapted from a press release by The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.