Treasures from the National Galleries of Scotland will be visiting the Kimbell Art Museum at the end of June and staying through September. Some of the works have never been shown in the U.S., and one is quite a rare treat, as it has not left Scotland for more than 50 years — Sandro Botticelli’s The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child (c. 1490).
The Scottish collection parallels the Kimbell’s in many respects, and with several of the same artists, such as Velázquez, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Monet and Braque. But there are omissions in each collection that are represented in the other. The National Galleries can boast a Botticelli and a Vermeer; the Kimbell cannot. But the Kimbell has a Michelangelo and a Caravaggio, and the National Galleries do not, so the two collections dovetail nicely.
“It is amazing how they beautifully complement one another, such as they have an early Velázquez; we have one from his mature years,” says Eric M. Lee, the Kimbell’s director.
The National Galleries have a Monet landscape, and so does the Kimbell. They were painted at different times. The National Galleries’ is from 1891 and shows a row of mature poplar trees under sunny skies. The Kimbell’s, painted at the end of World War I, is a weeping willow — a dark, dense landscape painted in response to the horrors of the war.
One of the most famous paintings in the National Galleries’ collection, and one that is closely tied to the national identity, is the portrait Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, by Henry Raeburn. The Kimbell has a portrait of two young brothers by the same artist. Both paintings are quite interesting in the way Raeburn captures the personalities of his subjects. The reverend is depicted stoically striding across the ice, arms crossed over his chest. From the waist up, it looks like an official portrait; from the waist down, he is gliding forward athletically.
There are some glorious paintings in the National Galleries’ collection. John Constable’s 1828 landscape is so carefully rendered, one suspects he had extra-sensory vision. John Singer Sargent’s portrait Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, 1892, has a different kind of honesty. The lovely lady of Lochnaw looks exceedingly bored with having her portrait painted. One wonders if it was entirely her idea.
The National collection has many standout paintings, including a stunning trio by Gauguin, a nude by Titian and, of course, the exquisite Botticelli. The exhibition, “Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces From the National Galleries of Scotland,” is worthy of attention. Combine it with the Kimbell’s permanent collection, and it is a spectacular opportunity to see some of the best paintings by the world’s most treasured artists.
“While it is here, it will be amazing,” Lee says.
Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces From the National Galleries of Scotland
June 28-Sept. 20
Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Admission: $18 for adults, discounts for children, students and seniors. Half-price all day Tuesdays and after 5 p.m. Fridays.