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Two newly refurbished galleries at National Museum Cardiff complete the redisplay of art in Wales before 1950.

Visitors to National Museum Cardiff will be treated to more of Wales's art treasures this Christmas with the opening of two new galleries today (Tuesday 16 December 2008), focusing on portraits of people from Wales and art from the Victorian period.

People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800-2000 looks at the presentation of some great Welsh characters over the last 200 years and Art in Victorian Britain explores British art between 1830 and 1880. Both will include some works never shown at the Museum before as well as more familiar pieces in different surroundings.

A changing display containing portraits of people celebrated for their contribution to culture, politics and economy in Wales, People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800-2000 includes Hungarian artist Karoly Marko's depiction of Adelina Patti (1843-1919). Patti, who made her home near Swansea, was one of the highest paid singers in the world and known for her beauty as well as her voice. She is portrayed dressed for skating. In his portrait of his friend Dylan Thomas, Alfred Janes used the technique of making linear incisions in the surface with a penknife to give the painting a greater formality.

This gallery reflects a period between 1800 and 2000 when it wasn't just landowning gentry and clergymen who could afford to have their faces recorded, and artists focused more on reflecting the character of their subject.

"Faces from Wales represents an important era in the development of art in this country," said Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art. "Visitors will recognise some faces, others will be less familiar, but each one has a story to tell."

Art in Victorian Britain is a stunning survey of art from the 1820s to the 1880s. From the landscapes of JMW Turner and John Constable to the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic movement, the display explores the richness and variety of Victorian painting. It is also rich in sculpture, especially that of the Welshman John Gibson, and in furniture.

Figuring prominently is Kinchenjunga from Darjeeling by the artist and humorist Edward Lear, bought by Amgueddfa Cymru in 2006 thanks to the support of The Art Fund and private donors. The work focuses on one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, which the artist himself admitted he found daunting! Sir Edwin Landseer became Queen Victoria's favourite artist. His work Rat Catchers, focusing on three of his dogs, which he painted when he was only 19, is one of the many smaller, unexpected treats of the gallery.

"Developments to the first floor of the building give us the opportunity to display works that until now have never been shown at National Museum Cardiff because of limited space. The aim, as we now focus our efforts on refurbishing the building's west wing for contemporary art, is to give our visitors wider variety and an enhanced experience as they come and enjoy our national art collection."

Entry to the new galleries and the Museum is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are:

National Museum Cardiff

St Fagans: National History Museum

The National Roman Legion Museum

Big Pit: National Coal Museum

The National Wool Museum

The National Slate Museum

The National Waterfront Museum.

Ends

For further information, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer, on (029) 2057 3185 / 07920 027067 or email catrin.mears@museumwales.ac.uk.

Notes to editors:

• The Art Fund: Since 1928, The Art Fund has given almost £2.3 million in grants to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and helped them acquire 680 objects including artworks by William Hogarth, Canaletto, David Hockney, Alfred Sisley, John Constable, Edward Lear, Richard Deacon, Frank Auerbach, Adam Pynacker, Thomas Girtin, Jan van de Cappelle, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Stanley Spencer and Nicolas Poussin.

The Art Fund offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections, campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d'Offay's collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke' public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner's Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org

• People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800-2000 features:

Self Portrait on Garnedd Dafydd, Brenda Chamberlain (1912-1972)

Adelina Patti (1843-1919), Karoly Marko (the younger) (1822-1891)

A Welsh Collier, Evan Walters (1893- 1951)

Dannie Abse (born 1923), Josef Herman (1911-2000)

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), Alfred Janes (1911-1999)

William Henry Davies (1871-1940), Augustus John (1878-1961)

Sir Charles Morgan (1760-1846) at the Castleton Ploughing Match, James Flewitt Mullock (1818-1892)

Laura, Robert and John Hughes, Hugh Hughes (1790-1863)

• Art in Victorian Britain features:

Rat Catchers, Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873)

The Stronghold of the Seison and the Camp of Kittywake, John Brett (1830-1902)

Perseus and the Graiae, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

Kinchenjunga from Darjeeling, Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Mass for the Reapers, Penry Williams (1802-1885)

 

Date: 16 December 2008
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