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  • National Treasures brings Impressionist masterpiece to city

National Treasures brings Impressionist masterpiece to city

One of the world’s most iconic Impressionist paintings takes pride of place at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery.

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ‘The Umbrellas’ – one of the most famous paintings in the world – will be displayed in the city as part of UK-wide commemorations marking the 200thanniversary of the National Gallery in London.

National Treasures: Renoir in Leicester at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery opens to the public on Friday 10 May until Sunday 1 September 2024.

The landmark National Treasures project, which forms part of the National Gallery’s NG200 year-long festival of arts and culture, will see 12 important artworks being loaned to 12 cities around the UK, including Leicester.

Each of the partner venues will be loaned a masterpiece from the national collection and will curate around it with interpretation, community engagement and events or exhibitions.

The Umbrellas, painted between 1881-86, is considered one of the greatest works of Impressionist art, and shows a busy Paris street scene full of people using umbrellas against the rain.

The painting will be the centrepiece of a special in-focus gallery alongside a digital installation featuring a newly commissioned animation from award-winning Leicester studio Kino Bino. The family-friendly animation ‘Lost Amongst the Umbrellas’ will take viewers on a visual journey through the bustling streets of 1880s Paris and explore the meaning and ideas behind Renoir’s masterpiece.

And people can experience Renoir’s The Umbrellas without the crowds on a Renoir: Out of Hours Tour and find out more about this iconic artwork alongside highlights of the Leicester Museum and Gallery art collection. The guided tours take place before the museum open on alternate Saturday mornings at 10am, from Saturday 11 May. Tickets cost £15 and must be booked in advance at leicestermuseums.org/Renoir-Tours

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It is a huge privilege for Leicester to be loaned such an iconic and important piece of late-19th century art, and we’re excited to be part of the national Gallery’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

“Leicester Museum and Art Gallery is already renowned for its German Expressionist Art and Picasso Ceramics collections among others, and the chance to exhibit such a well-known and historically significant painting is a real feather in our caps.

“Our museums give the visitors to explore a world of knowledge and culture, from highlighting the city through the ages, right through to hosting internationally recognised collections from ancient history and beyond.

“I am sure that the chance to see Renoir’s The Umbellas will encourage even more people to discover what Leicester’s museums have to offer visitors of all ages.”

Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said: “As the National Gallery approaches its third century of bringing people and paintings together, we are thrilled to be sharing 12 of our greatest masterpieces with museums across the UK. Over half of the UK's population will be within one hour's travel of a National Gallery painting and we hope that many, many people will visit our museum partners and participate in their exciting programmes.”

Renoir was one of the best-known painters from the Impressionist movement, centred around Paris from the 1860s and 1870s onwards, which also includes artists such as Claude Monet, Eduard Manet and Edgard Degas.

National Treasures: Renoir in Leicester will be at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery from Friday 10 May until Sunday 1 September 2024. For more information visit leicestermuseums.org.

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