PREVIEW: Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck, National Gallery

Over the Summer, the National Gallery will present an exhibition looking at great paintings from the point of view of the artists who owned them. 

Painters Painting
Self Portrait, Anthony van Dyke, 1629. (c) Photo courtesy of owner.

Looking over 500 years of art history, Painters’ Paintings will present more than eighty pieces of work, which were once owned by some of the world’s best known painters.

This exhibition offers a chance for visitors to re-examine some of these well known works through the owners own artistic experiences as well as offering a glimpse into the artist’s private world.

The inspiration for this exhibition came from Corot’s Italian Woman, left to the nation by Lucian Freud following his death in 2011. Freud had bought the Italian Woman 10 years earlier, no doubt drawn to its solid brushwork and intense physical presence. As a major piece of work in its own right, the painting can be considered in the light of Freud’s achievements, as a painter who tackled the representation of the human figure with vigour comparable to Corot’s.

Curator of Painters’ Paintings, Anne Robbins said: “Since its acquisition the painting’s notable provenance has attracted considerable attention – in fact the picture is often appraised in the light of Freud’s own achievements, almost eclipsing the intrinsic merits of Corot’s canvas. It made us start considering questions such as which paintings do artists choose to hang on their own walls? How do the works of art they have in their homes and studios influence their personal creative journeys? What can we learn about painters from their collection of paintings?” 

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery says, “Artists by definition live with their own pictures, but what motivates them to possess works by other painters, be they contemporaries – friends or rivals – or older masters? The exhibition looks for the answers in the collecting of Freud, Matisse, Degas, Leighton, Watts, Lawrence, Reynolds and Van Dyck.”

A number of the works to be displayed in the exhibition have not been seen in public for several decades and are loans from public and private collections from New York and Philadelphia to Copenhagen and Paris.

Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck will be on display at the National Gallery from the 23rd June to the 4th September. For more information and to book tickets visit:

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