Masterworks from Scotland on view in 'Botticelli to Braque' 

Scotland's population is smaller than that of Houston or Philadelphia, says Michael Clarke, director of the Scottish National Gallery, "but we punch above our weight."

Clarke’s boxing reference to a successful underdog came at the opening of "Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland,” an exhibition of 55 important paintings on view at the de Young Museum through May.

The show’s works – also from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – cover 500 years, from the Italian Renaissance to French Cubism.

At the beginning is Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli; at the end is Georges Braque. (Chronologically, the last work is Piet Mondrian’s 1932 "Composition with Double Line and Yellow.")

The 1485 Botticelli, "Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child," is an especially important painting, seen for the first time in North America, says Esther Bell, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s new curator in charge of European paintings. She calls attention to such details as thornless roses, signifying the Immaculate Conception. The exhibit includes paintings by Diego Velázquez, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat and Pablo Picasso.

Of special note are Jean-Antoine Watteau's 1718 "Fêtes Venitiennes," Thomas Gainsborough's 1745 "Landscape with a View of a Distant Village," Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot's 1825 "Ville-d'Avray: Entrance to the Wood" and Paul Gauguin's 1899 "Three Tahitians."

Notable 20th-century paintings on view include Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's 1909 "Japanese Theater," Pierre Bonnard's 1912 "Lane at Vernonnet" and Fernand Leger's 1921 "Woman and Still Life."

Among Scottish masters is Henry Raeburn’s 1795 "Reverend Robert Walker, Skating on Duddingston Loch," a painting so famous in the U.K. that it appeared on a stamp. In the past decade, there has been spirited controversy about the painting's attribution, some experts claiming it's the work of French artist Henri-Pierre Danloux. (The wall label for the painting in the de Young does not mention the debate, and Scottish museum authorities continue to accept it as Raeburn's work.)

Another celebrated Scottish artist in the show is Allan Ramsay, whose 1758 "The Artist's Wife: Margaret Lindsay of Evelick" was painted after Ramsay's second visit to Italy, showing the influence of the use of light in a Mediterranean climate.


Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland

Where: de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays–Sundays; closes May 31

Tickets: $11 to $21

Contact: (415) 750-3600,

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
Pin It

Speaking of...

More by Janos Gereben

Latest in Art & Museums

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation