2019: Our Overview of Must-See Art and Culture Events

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Night Watch, 1642. Oil on canvas, 363 × 437 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

In 2019, the Royal Collection Trust will mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci. With the last da Vinci to grace the open market fetching an impressive $450 million and brewing a worldwide media storm, the renowned polymath will receive his biggest exhibition in 65 years, Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. 

The RCT is partnering with 12 institutions around the UK to showcase 144 drawings by the expert hand. Twelve drawings chosen to reflect the full range of da Vinci’s interests-—from architecture, engineering and cartography, to geology and botany—are being shown at each venue from 1st February to 6th May. 

From 24th May, the drawings will join a selection of works on paper from the Queen’s personal collection for a once in a lifetime exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. The drawings entered the collection during the reign of Charles II and will see two seemingly completely blank sheets of paper on public display for the first time. In ultraviolet light, these sheets reveal studies of hands for the Adoration of the Magi (c.1481) and are among da Vinci’s most beautiful drawings.

A selection of the drawings will then travel to The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in November—the largest group of da Vinci’s works ever to be shown in Scotland.

Leonardo Da Vinci, The Head of Leda, c.1505-8. Black chalk, pen and ink on paper, 17.7 x 14.7 cm, Royal Collection.

Egyptian Treasures

“Wonderful things.” With these words, Howard Carter described what is arguably the most extraordinary archaeological discovery ever made: the tomb of Tutankhamun, pharaoh of the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty. Discovered by the British archeologist in 1922, the long-forgotten relic was found intact in the Valley of the Kings, along with various treasures. 

Guardian Statue, 18th dynasty. Reign of Tutankhamun, 1336 – 1327 BC. Wood, bitumen, gesso, gilding, copper, alloy, 190 x 56 cm, Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Antechamber.

From 23 March to 15 September 2019, the Grande Halle at La Villette in Paris will be celebrating the magnificence of the discovery, welcoming Tutankhamun, the Treasures of the Pharaoh. The immersive exhibition will reveal more than 150 fascinating original objects, 50 of which have never-before left Egypt. This rare opportunity to intimately discover the mysterious sovereign includes a chance to see the statue of the Amun god protecting Tutankhamun. Sourced from the Louvre’s collections, the large diorite statue is one of several sculpted works discovered in Thebes that illustrate Tutankhamun’s devotion to the god Amun.

After touring the world, the exhibition will eventually settle at the Grand Egyptian Museum—due to open in 2022 and set to be one of the most important museums dedicated to Egyptian antiquity in the world.

Miniature Canopic Coffin, 18th dynasty Reign of Tutankhamun, 1336 – 1327 BC Gold, coloured glass, carnelian 39.5 x 11 cm Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Treasury.

The Year of Rembrandt

This year may mark an anniversary for Leonardo da Vinci, but he won’t get the year all to himself. In the Netherlands, 2019 is officially the Year of Rembrandt, marking the 350th anniversary of the Dutch master’s death. From 15th February to 10th June, All the Rembrandts will kick off the year-long celebrations at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. 

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Night Watch, 1642. Oil on canvas, 363 × 437 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The collection is the world’s largest of Rembrandt paintings and includes The Night Watch (1642), the portraits of Marten Soolans and Oopjen Coppit (1634) and The Jewish Bride (1665). Totaling 22 works, the exhibition will encompass all of Rembrandt’s periods and styles, showcasing the finest prints and notable early works. 

The Rijksmuseum’s plans for later on in the year include detailed guided tours and a live restoration of Rembrandt’s most celebrated masterpiece, The Night Watch (1642), which will begin in July.  

An Inspiration to Us All

Tate Britain has announced a major exhibition concerning the most conflicted artist of all, Vincent van Gogh. From 27th March to 11th August 2019, The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain will present the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings in the UK for nearly a decade. 

Vincent Van Gogh, L’Arlesienne, 1890. Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm, Museu de Arte de São Paulo.

Over 45 works will be brought together from around the world—including Shoes (1886), Starry Night on the Rhône (1888), and two works he completed while a patient at the Saint-Paul Asylum. They will be joined by the rarely-loaned Sunflowers (1888) from London’s National Gallery. 

Van Gogh spent crucial years in London between 1873 and 1876, besotted with British culture—particularly, the novels of Charles Dickens. L’Arlésienne (1890), a portrait created in the last year of Van Gogh’s life, will feature in the exhibition and depicts a favourite book by Dickens. The display will tell a story from Van Gogh walking the streets in a vast city to how he influenced British artists, including Francis Bacon, David Bomberg and the young Camden Town painters. Considering celebrated works through the eyes of the artists they inspired will be sure to show just how much the outsider set Britain on the path to modern art.

That’s So Camp

In an  effort to top last year’s show, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination—its most-visited exhibition ever—New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s Spring 2019 exhibition theme is Camp: Notes on Fashion. Running from 9th May to 8th September, 2019, the exhibition is framed around Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay Notes on ‘Camp’—a text that identifies 58 ways to define the concept. 

Marc Jacobs, Ensembles, 2016. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2018.

Covering everything from the origins of camp in the 17th century to how camp’s disruptive nature has become a tool for political change and an influence on mainstream culture, the show will include 175 objects including fashion, sculptures, paintings, and drawings. Its opening section explores the concept of se camper—‘to posture boldly’ in the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV at Versailles, a ‘camp Eden’.

Gucci and scenographer Jan Versweyveld are underwriting the exhibition, marked its opening with the iconic Met Gala on 6 May. Co-chaired by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, the event saw Serena Williams, Harry Styles, Gucci’s Allesandro Michele and the queen of camp herself, Lady Gaga, as hosts.  

This feature was originally published in the spring edition of Arts and Collections, which you can also read here. 

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