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Exhibition of masterpieces from the Museo del Prado on view at the National Gallery of Victoria
Jacopo Tintoretto (Italian 1519–1594), The abduction of Helen (Il rapimento di Elena) c.1578–79. Oil on canvas, 186.0 x 307.0 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00399). Spanish Royal Collection. Museo Nacional del Prado.

MELBOURNE.- The finest collection of Italian masterpieces ever to come to Australia were unveiled at the National Gallery of Victoria on 16 May. Featuring important works by masters such as Raphael, Titian and Tiepolo, the exhibition represents an unprecedented opportunity in Australia to see extraordinary Italian works of art produced during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

This Melbourne exclusive exhibition has been drawn from one of the world’s most celebrated collections, the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and showcases over 100 works comprising 70 paintings, some measuring over 3 metres, alongside more than 30 superb drawings – the largest number of Italian works the Museo del Prado has ever loaned to one exhibition.

The Honourable Heidi Victoria, Minister for the Arts, congratulated the Museo del Prado and National Gallery of Victoria on this unique collaboration and remarkable exhibition.

“The Italian Masterpieces exhibition features the finest Italian works ever to come to Australia. It is the first time the Prado has toured an exhibition of their renowned collection of Italian masterpieces anywhere in the world, making this without doubt a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for lovers of art.

We are thrilled that this world-first exhibition has been secured by the National Gallery of Victoria and will be seen exclusively in Melbourne,” Minister Victoria said.

Director of the NGV, Tony Ellwood, said that the holdings of Italian art in the Museo del Prado are unique and unrivalled in museums outside Italy, and importantly, many of these paintings have never before left Spain.

Mr Ellwood commented, “We are deeply grateful to the Prado for loaning such a significant collection of their works to our gallery. This remarkable exhibition will bring magnificent works from the heart of the Prado’s collection, featuring the finest works from over 70 Italian masters including Raphael, Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, the Carracci and Tiepolo.

To celebrate the exhibition we invite our visitors to enjoy our accompanying program of innovative programs and events, Italian and Spanish language tours, events for children and families, performances, live music, lectures and tours that will all contribute to make this an exceptional experience,” said Mr Ellwood.

Museo del Prado Director Miguel Zugaza added, “Museo del Prado is a privileged witness of the close historical, political and cultural ties that link Spain and Italy in the early Modern period. The 100-or-so works which will be travelling out of the Museum for the first time reflect the extraordinary quality and importance of the art made in Italy for the Spanish court from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Through this astounding selection of masterpieces the National Gallery of Victoria’s public will be able to appreciate the genius of the great artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods and the Spanish crown’s exceptional patronage tradition of Italian art.“

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish ruler Emperor Charles V began a tradition of acquiring Italian paintings. Successive rulers also commissioned works directly from the artists in Italy or enticed them to Spain to work in the Royal Household. Such is the scale of this exhibition that visitors can trace the stylistic development of Italian art across three centuries drawn from Italy’s key cultural centres including Rome, Venice and Naples.

This is the 11th Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition at the NGV since the series began in 2004 with The Impressionists. Since then, the series has attracted more than four million visitors, and has generated over $318 million in economic benefits for the state.

Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado is presented alongside DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Melbourne Winter Masterpieces is a Victorian Government initiative.

The exhibition is organised by the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, in association with the National Gallery of Victoria and Art Exhibitions Australia.

Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado is on display at the National Gallery of Victoria from 16 May until 31 August 2014. Admission fees apply.

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