Harewood’s Renaissance masterpiece Allegory by Domenikos Theotokopoulos (known as El Greco, the Greek) will be leaving the House for a short while for a trip to Paris where it will be on show as part of a major retrospective of the artist’s work at the Grand Palais.
The exhibition will be on from 14th October 2019 until 10th February 2020 and will be the first major El Greco exhibition in France for many years. Some works will then tour to the Art Institute of Chicago but Allegory will come home to Harewood, due back in time for opening in March 2020.
The painting, whose full title is full title An Allegory with a Woman lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool (‘Fábula’,) dates from around 1577. It was bought by Henry, Viscount Lascelles, (later 6th Earl of Harewood) in 1917 after he inherited a large amount of money from his great uncle, the 2nd Marquess of Clanricarde. As a young man Henry had developed an interest in Italian pictures, his inheritance allowed him to indulge his passion and amass the collection which is on display at Harewood today.
El Greco was born in Crete in 1541, trained as an artist in Venice and in the 1570s settled in Toledo, Spain, where he died in 1614. He often made several versions of his works; Harewood’s Allegory is one of three known versions and is the only one being lent to this exhibition. It is also the best preserved and the only one which is signed by the artist. El Greco had fallen out of favour somewhat as an artist when Henry purchased the painting, so it is an unusual work to find in a country house. The painting will feature in the exhibition catalogue and a new publication El Greco: Ambition and Defiance which is due to be published in 2020.
As part of the preparation for the exhibition, the painting will be undergoing minor conservation work including a surface clean and re-varnish, so it will return looking a little lighter and brighter than it does now.
Paula Martin, Collections Manager at Harewood said; “This is the first major retrospective of El Greco’s work to be shown in France so we’re delighted to be able to lend this iconic work. It’s the first time the painting has left Harewood in 15 years, and although it will be missed, it means that a whole new audience will be able to see and appreciate it.”
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