RUBENS, VAN DYCK, JORDAENS - Inaugural exhibition of the new program Masterpiece in Focus

Ottawa - May 1, 2013

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) invites members of the public and students and scholars alike to look at treasures in the national collection with fresh eyes, thanks to the new program Masterpiece in Focus. The program’s inaugural exhibition takes an accessible and engaging approach to examining seventeenth-century Flemish painting and features works by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens. This small but concentrated exhibition will allow visitors to discover the artists’ creative world as it reveals the mysteries behind the objects. A total of 27 works will be presented, including three preparatory works for an ambitious painting by Van Dyck, brought together for the very first time in nearly 400 years. Masterpiece in Focus: Rubens, van Dyck, Jordaens will be on view until September 2, 2013.

“We are extremely pleased to offer Canadians this opportunity to learn more about their national collection, through rich and highly accessible content,” said NGC director Marc Mayer. “Recent discoveries by our specialists about our paintings have shed new and fascinating light on the works of these brilliant old masters who shaped the history of art.”

Masterpiece in Focus: Rubens, van Dyck, Jordaens will soon be accompanied by a website providing detailed studies of the objects and their fascinating, rich histories. For more information, visit

Rubens, van Dyck and Jordaens
Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was the most successful and entrepreneurial artist of his generation. Based in Antwerp, a major centre of artistic production, he came from a culture where painters and artisans worked collaboratively, with a full understanding of their materials and craft. Using his formidable intelligence to reconceptualize the nature of the Flemish painter’s workshop, he came to dominate the arts in Flanders and was in demand across all Europe. His immediate legacy was the success of Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens, artists of the succeeding generation, who fully understood Rubens’ methods and strategies. Both men were able to effectively adapt his model to their own artistic personalities.

Visit the master’s studio
The paintings and works on paper exhibited in Masterpiece in focus: Rubens, van Dyck, Jordaens demonstrate both the sound practical thinking, based on traditional craft practices, as well as the innovations that were essential to Rubens’ model. As such, they reward the close study of their making and function. New research, made by the Gallery’s experts in the course of preparation for this project, has clarified historic misunderstandings and opened new avenues of investigation. The exhibition also allows us to focus on works from the national collection, which may seem familiar, but continue to hold secrets. Bringing a fresh viewpoint to the artistic interactions in Rubens’ studio, we have gained both insight into factors beyond the mere physical nature of the objects and access to the creative minds of their makers. We can put ourselves in the position of the artist, or at least a visitor to his studio.

On Thursday, June 6 at 6 pm, lecture by NGC Assistant curator, European Art, and curator of the exhibition Dr. Christopher Etheridge. In the Lecture Hall. In English with bilingual question period.

Adult art tours
Friday, July 19 at 1:30 pm in the exhibition space, C-218. Discover the technical mysteries behind the work of Rubens and his contemporaries, including Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens. In English. Ticket required.

Admission fees
Adults: $12. Seniors and full-time students: $10 Youth (12-19): $6. Families (two adults and three youth): $24. Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Free admission Thursdays after 5 pm and Sunday May 19 (International Museum Day), Sunday June 2 (Doors Open Ottawa), Friday June 21 (National Aboriginal Day), and Monday July 1st (Canada Day). For more information, call 613-998-8888 or 1-888-541-8888.

The NGC is open Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m.

About the National Gallery of Canada 
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information:

Twitter: @gallerydotca

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For more information, please contact:
Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer, National Gallery of Canada
613.990.6835 /