Burrell Collection objects and paintings in major tour to Marseilles and cities across Japan

curator wearing gloves holds one of the French paintings from the Burrell Collection that will go on tour to Marseilles and cities across Japan

Historic landmark for the Burrell Collection as major exhibitions travel to Marseilles and cities across Japan

Today Glasgow City Council approved two significant exhibitions, presenting some of the most iconic late 19th century French paintings from the Burrell Collection, to tour six international museums in France and Japan for the first time.

58 works from the Burrell Collection will form the inaugural exhibition at the reopened Musée Cantini, Marseilles from 18 May to 23 September 2018. An exhibition of 80 masterworks of French painting from the Burrell, along with 7 supporting works from Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery will then tour Japan from October 2018 to January 2020. 

The exhibitions will document the development from French Realist painting to Impressionism, a key period of revolutionary artistic change that is uniquely represented by the Burrell’s exceptional collection of works by Bonvin, Boudin, Corot, Courbet, Daubigny, Daumier, Degas, Fantin-Latour, Manet and Millet.

The tour of French paintings underlines a chapter of the highest quality within the Burrell Collection. It reflects the width and quality of Sir William’s collecting achievements and his outward looking international perspectives
Sir Angus Grossart Chair of Burrell Renaissance

Each will take place whilst the Burrell Collection undergoes an estimated £66 million refurbishment of its building and redisplay of its extensive Collection. Plans for the refurbishment and redisplay of the Burrell will see the museum’s public space increase by 83% and gallery space increase by 35% with store rooms on the lower ground floor open to the public for the first time. As well as improved facilities including café and retail opportunities, landscaped terraces will link the museum to its parkland setting, enhancing the visitor experience. A re-interpretation of treasures of the Collection will also tell much more of a story about their importance and how they were collected, with an increase in artworks on display across the museum’s collections.

One of the indisputable iconic works on display will be The Rehearsal by Edgar Degas (c1884), an astonishingly modern composition which draws on the influence of Japanese prints and photography to create a bold yet serenely beautiful painting. The painting is considered by many as a manifesto for Degas’ fascination with the ballet, a subject that he returned to again and again.

The work is currently on display as part of the critically acclaimed exhibition Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell at the National Gallery, London, which features a stunning group of 20 paintings, pastels and drawings by the artist until 7 May 2018. Today’s announcement follows a visit by HRH The Prince of Wales, to several exhibitions at the National Gallery, London, yesterday including Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell.

Burrell had a particular appreciation for Degas, amassing more than 20 works by the artist. He made the majority of his purchases in the 1920s but his first acquisition was as early as 1901. Known as La Lorgneuse or Girl Looking through Field Glasses (1869–72), he purchased this, his first painting by the artist, through the Glasgow art dealer Alexander Reid who had shared an apartment in Paris with Van Gogh. The work is a powerful reversal of Degas’ customary rules of observation whereby the male onlooker is invited into a scene of female domesticity or intimacy. The painting instead depicts a young woman at the races who turns her gaze emphatically towards the onlooker.  

An exceptional landscape by Paul Cézanne, The Château of Médan (c.1880)will go on display in the artist’s home region of France for the first time since its purchase by Burrell. An acknowledged masterpiece, the painting is all the more breath-taking because of its historic associations. It was once owned by Paul Gaugin who admired its adventurous composition and use of colour and it depicts the house of Émile Zola, possibly the most prominent French novelist of the late 19th century.

Chair of Glasgow Life, and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, Councillor David McDonald, says:

The Burrell Collection has inspired millions of visitors to the City of Glasgow. Now the Burrell’s exceptional collection of French paintings is to be shown overseas for the first time, enabling new audiences across the globe to experience these unique works. The City of Glasgow and the City of Marseilles have been twin cities since 2006 and this high-profile collaboration only strengthens our ties further.

The exhibitions signify a further major milestone for the Burrell Collection, with many of the artworks making their international debut after the Burrell Collection (Lending and Borrowing) (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent in February 2014. As well as increasing Glasgow’s status as home to one of the world’s finest collections gifted by one man to one city, the act allows significant works from the Burrell Collection to be seen outside Great Britain for the first time alongside other key artworks.

curator wearing gloves holds one of the French paintings from the Burrell Collection that will go on tour to Marseilles and cities across Japan

James Robinson, Director of Burrell Renaissance says:

Our collaboration with the Musée Cantini, Marseilles, and the Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo, has provided a wonderful opportunity to bring iconic works to new audiences. The Burrell has articulated a vision that will enable the Collection to engage more meaningfully with international audiences, it is therefore extremely gratifying to see the very distinguished collection of French paintings released on the world-stage in these ground-breaking exhibitions.

Dr Frances Fowle, Chair, Burrell Trustees comments:

'The Burrell Trustees are pleased to support the overseas tours which not only create a context for the exchange of research and expertise, but help to raise the profile of the Burrell collection internationally while the building is closed for much needed refurbishment.

Courbet, Degas, Cézanne… Chefs-d'oeuvre réalistes et impressionistes de la collection Burrell will be at the Musée Cantini, Marseilles from 18 May to 23 September 2018.

Organised by Glasgow Museums with Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo, The Burrell Collection: A voyage to impressionism: vision of a great ship-owner collector will tour five venues in Japan from 12 October 2018 to 26 January 2020.