“Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London” closes January 13

Posted on December 9th, 2012

Milwaukee Art Museum Brings Old Masters to Milwaukee
Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London stops in Milwaukee on first U.S. tour

Milwaukee, Wis. –  Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London, an exhibition of forty-eight masterpieces on tour from the Iveagh Bequest collection, is on view through January 13, 2013 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Most of the paintings have never traveled to the States before, and many of them have rarely been seen outside London’s Kenwood House. The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and English Heritage.

A magnificent painting collection known as the Iveagh Bequest resides at Kenwood House, a neoclassical villa in London that Scottish architect Robert Adam remodeled in the eighteenth century. Donated to the nation by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847–1927) and heir to the world’s most successful brewery, the collection was shaped by the tastes of the Belle Époque—Europe’s equivalent to America’s Gilded Age—when the earl shared the cultural stage and art market with other industry titans such as the Rothschilds, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Henry Clay Frick. The earl’s purchases, made mainly between 1887 and 1891, reveal a taste for the portraiture, landscape, and seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish works that could typically be found in English aristocratic collections.

“It is an honor to collaborate with Kenwood House and with the American Federation of Arts, to host this exquisite collection of masterworks,” said Daniel Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. “This priceless collection holds significance the world-over, and again, it speaks volumes about our Museum, and the reputation it has established internationally, that Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London is coming to Milwaukee.”

Among the works on view include Rembrandt’s sublime Portrait of the Artist (ca. 1665), Anthony van Dyck’s Princess Henrietta of Lorraine Attended by a Page (1634), Thomas Gainsborough’s Mary, Countess Howe (ca. 1764), Frans Hals’s Pieter van den Broecke (1633), and Joshua Reynolds’s Lady Louisa Manners (1779).

“These artists were inspired by Europe’s rich seascapes and landscapes and aristocratic elegance,” said Keegan. “The works are exceptional, sumptuous, and speak to the heart of the eighteenth-century Golden Age.”

While the exhibition is on tour, Kenwood House is being refurbished; the villa will reopen in late 2013.

The exhibition is curated by Susan Jenkins, together with her colleagues at English Heritage, the government’s lead advisory body for the historic environment in England.

An exhibition catalogue, published by the American Federation of Arts, accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, with additional funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. In-kind support is provided by Barbara and Richard S. Lane.

It is presented at the Milwaukee Art Museum by BMO Harris Bank, with additional funding from Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc. and Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 30,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum houses a collection with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine as “Best Design of 2001.” For more information, please visit www.mam.org.

The AFA is a nonprofit institution that organizes art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishes exhibition catalogues and develops educational materials and programs for children and adults. The AFA’s mission is to enrich the public’s experience of art and understanding of culture by organizing and touring a diverse offering of exhibitions embracing all aspects of art history. The AFA has organized or circulated approximately 3,000 exhibitions with presentations in museums in every state, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa that have been viewed by more than 10 million people. For more information about its exhibitions, publications, artist talks (ArtTalks), membership, cultural travel program (ArtScapes) and online resources, including family guides and podcasts, see www.afaweb.org.

English Heritage is the government’s lead advisory body for the historic environment in England and is responsible for the national collection of historic sites and monuments, as well as their contents and archives. The collection comprises more than 400 historic places and spans 5,000 years of architecture, from prehistoric sites to nuclear bunkers. It includes Stonehenge and much of Hadrian’s Wall, the ruins of the greatest medieval abbeys, the world’s first iron bridge, Charles Darwin’s diaries and the Duke of Wellington’s boots. www.english-heritage.org.uk.

Set in beautiful landscaped parkland in the midst of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House is one of the most magnificent visitor attractions in London. This elegant villa, remodeled by Robert Adam in the eighteenth century, houses a superb collection of paintings that includes masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough, as well as the Suffolk collection of rare Jacobean portraits. While the exhibition is on tour, Kenwood House will be undergoing a major repair and conservation program. The work will make the roof wind and weather tight—protecting the magnificent interior and important art collection from serious leaks and damp—and will also repair and revive Kenwood’s beautiful exterior. The project will be complete in 2013.