Exhibition & Special Display Programme 2016

Bruegel in Black and White: Three Grisailles Reunited

4 February – 8 May 2016

Despite his status as the most important Netherlandish painter of the sixteenth century, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569) remains an elusive artist: fewer than forty paintings are attributed to him. This focused exhibition brings together for the first time Bruegel’s only three surviving grisaille paintings: the Courtauld’s Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, The Death of the Virgin from Upton House (National Trust) and Three Soldiers from the Frick Collection in New York. Painted in shades of grey, these exquisite masterpieces were treasured by Bruegel and his friends. Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery was one of the very few paintings the artist kept for himself, and The Death of the Virgin was owned by his close friend, the great map-maker Abraham Ortelius.

The exhibition will include replicas made by Bruegel’s sons, as well as other grisailles in order to shed light on this genre in Northern Europe.  An associated display in the Butler Drawings Gallery will showcase other rare works by Bruegel from the Courtauld’s permanent collection.

Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection

18 February – 8 May 2016

This major exhibition features no less than thirty of Botticelli’s exquisite drawings for Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ alongside a selection of outstanding Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. These works were all sensationally sold to Berlin in 1882 by the 12th Duke of Hamilton. Dated to around 1480-95 and drawn on vellum, Botticelli’s Dante drawings are very rarely exhibited. This is an exceptional opportunity to see a representative collection of the great Renaissance master’s interpretation of one of the canonical texts of world literature. Ten drawings will be included from each of the three parts of the Divine Comedy, charting Dante’s imaginary journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. 

The drawings will be accompanied by an extraordinary selection of illuminated manuscripts, many from the time of Botticelli. These include the monumental 'Hamilton Bible'. One of the most important illuminated manuscripts in the world, this splendid princely volume is depicted in Raphael’s portrait of Pope Leo X (Florence, Uffizi Gallery) and has never returned to the United Kingdom since its sale in 1882. 

Organised in collaboration with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kupferstichkabinett

Summer Showcase

Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings

25 June – 25 September 2016

Georgiana Houghton (b. 1814) was a Spiritualist medium who, in the 1860s and 70s, produced an astonishing series of largely abstract watercolours. Detailed explanations on the back of the works declare that her hand was guided by various spirits, including several Renaissance artists, as well as higher angelic beings. In1871 Houghton rented a gallery in Bond Street and presented 155 of these works to a London audience.

In their bold colours, fluid forms and dense rich patterns these confident and mesmerising watercolours appear to anticipate automatic drawing and the abstraction of early 20th century art. The majority of Houghton’s work survives in the Spiritualist Union in Melbourne, Australia and is little known beyond a circle of specialists.

Organised in collaboration with Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, Australia. 

Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement 

20 October 2016 – 22 January 2017

Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement is the first major exhibition to explore Rodin’s fascination with dance and bodies in extreme acrobatic poses. It focuses on the series of small scale experimental sculptures known as the Dance Movements, which were found in the artist’s studio after his death. These leaping twisting figures in terracotta and plaster are presented alongside a series of remarkable drawings in which Rodin explored movement and new forms of dance. They include performers from the Royal Cambodian dance troupe that enthralled France in 1906 as well as models that posed for him in the privacy of his studio.

The Dance Movements were not exhibited during Rodin’s lifetime or known beyond his close circle. Alongside the associated drawings they show a new side to Rodin’s art, in which he pushed the boundaries of sculpture, expressing themes of flight and gravity.  

Organised in collaboration with the Musée Rodin, Paris 

Full Programme

Exhibition & Special Display Programme 2016

  • Bruegel in Black and White: Three Grisailles Reunited, 4 February – 8 May 2016
  • Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection, 18 February – 15 May 2016

Summer Showcase 

  • Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings, 16 June – 11 September 2016
  • Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement, 20 October 2016- 22 January 2017