Saint Zenobius was a Florentine nobleman who was converted to Christianity and baptised as an adult, ultimately becoming the first Bishop of Florence. Dying in 417 AD, he is venerated for several miracles attributed to him. Scenes from his life were depicted in a series of paintings by Botticelli in 1500-1505, one of which has been brought to Australia with 60 other treasures from London’s National Gallery, now on show in Canberra at our own National Gallery in Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London until 14 June.
Since few of us will be able to visit London this year, such an exhibition may be the next best thing. They are indeed masterpieces in the first international tour from the National Gallery. Founded in 1824, not with a royal collection, but with 38 paintings bought by the British government from the estate of a banker, John Julius Angerstein, the Gallery’s collection has grown to 2,300 works through gifts and purchases now in the care of Dr Gabrieli Finaldi, the English-born Director since 2015.
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) will probably be the popular star attraction but there are many other great works. Among them Vermeer’s A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (c.1670), Cezanne’s Hillside in Provence (c.1890), Gauguin’s A Vase of Flowers (1896) and a super glamorous double portrait by van Dyck (c.1635) of Lady Thimbelly and her Sister. Worth a trip especially in a non-sitting week.
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