L: Sandro Botticelli, The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, ca. 1490. Tempera and gold on canvas. Scottish National Gallery. R: Henry Raeburn, Reverend Robert Walker, Skating on Duddingston Loch, ca.1795. Oil on canvas. Scottish National Gallery
Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland
Spanning more than 400 years of artistic production, this exhibition includes works by many of the greatest painters from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. Some, including Sandro Botticelli’s Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child (ca. 1490), have never before been seen in the United States. This presentation includes 55 works from the three institutions that form the National Galleries of Scotland: the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Two highlights from the collection, pictured above, reveal rare attributes of well-known masters. Botticelli’s Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child was painted on canvas, unusual for this period, and it shows the Christ child sleeping, which could be interpreted as a foreshadowing of Jesus’s death. Another exhibition highlight, Henry Raeburn’s Reverend Robert Walker, Skating on Duddingston Loch (ca. 1795), shows a figure in motion, making it unlike any other known portrait by the artist. Its subject was not only a minister of the Canongate Kirk, but also a member of the Edinburgh Skating Society. As he glides across the ice, his pose appears effortless but would have been recognized by fellow skaters as a difficult and sophisticated maneuver.
Founded in 1850, the Scottish National Gallery is one of the finest museums in the world, distinguished by both the quality and the significance of its holdings. It contains some of the most iconic images in the history of Western art, from the Middle Ages to the late 19th century, as well as the most comprehensive collection of Scottish art from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Its holdings are supplemented by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which opened in 1889, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which opened in 1959.
This exhibition continues the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s tradition of presenting works from acclaimed museums around the world. The selection was chosen to complement the permanent collection, including examples by certain artists represented in the Museums’ holdings, such as El Greco, Anthony van Dyck, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Claude Monet, and Raeburn. Other works allow visitors to encounter paintings by artists not currently in the permanent collection, including masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer, Diego Velázquez, Veronese, and Botticelli.
This exhibition is organized by the National Galleries of Scotland.
Cynthia Fry Gunn and John A. Gunn
San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums