LONDON, ENGLAND.- What do all these celebrities have in common? Sir Paul McCartney, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Sir Harold Pinter, Tony Bennett, Stella McCartney, Kim Cattrall, Lucy Liu, Frank Skinner, Lauren Laverne, Simon Schama, Mike Skinner, Michael York, Nicole Farhi, Tom Hollander, James Dean Bradfield, Josie Lawrence, Trinny Woodall, Alex Jennings, Laura Parker Bowles, Alan Titchmarsh, HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and HRH Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca. Answer - They are among the 150,000 people who, in the seven weeks since it opened, have enjoyed the box-office record-breaking 'Velázquez' exhibition at the National Gallery, described as 'the show of the decade' (The Times).
For the first time in Britain, a major exhibition is tracing the career of one of the very greatest painters, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez - from his beginnings in Seville, through his move to Madrid and appointment as court painter to Philip IV, his two trips to Italy, to his final days and his knighthood.
Featuring eight major works from the Museo del Prado, Madrid and other rare loans, 'Velázquez' is a once-in-a-lifetime event that is 'an experience not to be missed by anyone who cares about art' (The Observer).
And visitors love it so much, they are taking Velázquez home with them. More than 4,000 fridges are now adorned with a 'Rokeby Venus' magnet, 450 women now keep their toiletries in a 'Toilet of Venus' wash bag, and more than 100,000 Velázquez postcards are now decorating walls across the world.
'Velázquez' is the first truly retrospective exhibition of the artist Manet declared 'le peintre des peintres' ('painter of the painters') - don't wait until it is too late to see it.
The exhibition is open 7 days a week from 10am - 6pm, until 9pm on Wednesdays and specially open until 9pm on Saturdays. Due to demand, 'Velázquez' will also remain open until 9pm every night during its final week (w/c 15 January 2007).