Major Sixteenth Century additions to National Gallery of Scotland

  • 14 February 2008

The Art Fund, is today announcing grants totalling £180,000 for the National Gallery of Scotland to acquire 'The Transfiguration' by Lodovico Carracci, and 'The Miracle of the Loaves' by Abraham Bloemart.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “These two paintings vividly reveal the different ways in which European art was evolving in the latter part of the 16th century.  Both artists were highly influential and these works will make fascinating additions to what is already a world-class collection.”

‘The Transfiguration’ which dates from around 1588-9, depicts the moment when Christ demonstrated his divine nature to his disciples Peter, James and John. The stunned apostles are seen lying on the ground, astonished by the sight as he is transformed on remote Mount Tabor, appearing in a vision conversing with the Old Testament prophets Moses and Elijah. Christ is shown clothed in white and radiating a bright light.

This painting demonstrates a particularly high quality of paintwork and style which indicates it was executed at a time when Lodovico Carracci (1555–1619) was considered one of the most distinctive artists active in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century. The artist was a member of the highly influential Carracci family, which fostered a new naturalistic approach to painting, combined with a profound respect for the great masters of the earlier sixteenth century. ‘The Transfiguration’ is the first painting by the Carracci to enter the National Gallery of Scotland’s collection, and will complement their existing holdings of works by their pupils and followers.

‘The Transfiguration’ was acquired for £500,000 (tax remission) from a private collection by the Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland, with a £100,000 grant from The Art Fund.

Dating from 1593, ‘The Miracle of the Loaves’ illustrates the story described in all four gospels when Christ and the disciples fed a crowd of five thousand followers with just two loaves of bread. It was painted by Dutch painter Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651) during the early period of the artist’s career, and is typical of this school of artists in the way the foreground is dominated by accessory figures in contorted poses, while the main event is barely discernible in the middle distance.

The extraordinary little work will fill a major gap in the National Gallery of Scotland’s holdings of Dutch and Flemish Art and is a superb example of Dutch Mannerism, an area which is currently under represented in the collections.

The Miracle of the Loaves was bought for £250,000 from a private trust by the Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland, with an £80,000 grant from The Art Fund.