Gardner masterpieces relocated to new exhibition

April 1, 2016
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Twenty-five of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s most esteemed works will be moved from the museum’s original location into a temporary exhibition called Off the Wall: Gardner and Her Masterpieces in the Hostetter Gallery, according to a press release.    The exhibition of art by masters, including Rembrandt, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Rubens, opened March 10 and will run through Aug. 15.

The exhibition aims to highlight Gardner’s esteemed personal collection of Northern European, Italian, and Spanish art. The selected works for Off the Wall include: Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, Aged 23 (1629); Anders Zorn’s portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice (1894); Raphael’s Procession of Pope Sylvester I (1516-1517); Michelangelo’s Pietà (1540); Fra Angelico’s The Death and Assumption of the Virgin (1430-1434); Raphael’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ (1503-1505); Piero della Francesca’s Hercules (1470); Sandro Botticelli’s The Tragedy of Lucretia (1499-1500); and Raphael’s portrait, Count Tommaso Inghirami (1515-1516).

“Every time we move one of our artworks—even the most iconic ones—out of the palace for photography or conservation analysis, we see new details that we had not before noticed,” said Christina Nielsen, William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection, according to the press release. “We are thrilled to give our visitors the opportunity to go behind the scenes, in a way, and make new discoveries of their own.”

In contrast to the museum’s permanent collection galleries, interpretive tools will provide information about the individual works of art and will also shed light on how they were acquired by Gardner.

“This once-in-lifetime exhibition will provide visitors with direct access to extraordinary works,” said Nielsen. “Placing a select group of paintings and drawings in our contemporary exhibition space, seen up close and lit to best advantage, allows us to reconsider the museum’s rich holdings and to think anew about how works from the Renaissance to the Rococo speak to us today.”

Gardner was known as not only a collector of art, but also a collector of experiences, ideas, and people at the turn of the century. A small new exhibition space is also being renovated to display a selection of Gardner’s letters, albums, souvenirs, and photos to share the story of Gardner as a collector, traveler, and cultural impresario. Some of these artifacts include a travel diary that Gardner hand-illustrated in Egypt and a preparatory drawing by John Singer Sargent for his iconic painting of a Spanish dancer, El Jaleo.

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