A Collector's Eye: Cranach to Pissarro

What would be in your dream art collection?

'A Collector's Eye' will feature paintings from a varied private collection, including works by Rubens, El Greco, Pissarro and Sisley. The exhibition will show how a collection grows and reflects a collector's individual tastes.

The video below shows works from the exhibition and asks: which paintings would be in your dream art collection?

A Collector's Eye: Cranach to Pissarro 

Painting of people in battle

'Battle of the Amazons' by Rubens.
© David Lewis family interests

18 February to 15 May 2011

This exhibition has closed

'A Collector's Eye: Cranach to Pissarro' was a unique exhibition of paintings from a stunning private collection.

The exhibition featured five centuries of art and 64 works ranging from tender 15th century devotional images to 19th century French Impressionist landscapes. Old Master artists Rubens, El Greco, Delacroix and Cranach were included alongside Impressionists such as Pissarro and Sisley.

As well as being an exhibition of great breadth and depth of style and time periods, it was also a story of how a collection grows and develops. The works were from the Schorr Collection assembled by private collector David J Lewis for his family interests.

'Lamentation over dead Christ'

Lucas Cranach

Christ being tended by crying people

© David Lewis family interests

Between 1505 and 1547 Cranach was court painter for the Saxon dukes in Wittenberg, Germany. He painted this emotional image of the Virgin and Mary Magdalene grieving shortly after his friend Martin Luther launched the Protestant reformation.

The mournful mood is set by the single conifer tree, whose branches symbolise the cross on which Christ died. This composition is thought unique for Cranach. He more often produced many versions of a theme. These were painted by his large workshop, which included his sons Hans and Lucas.

 'St John the Evangelist'

El Greco

Portrait of a pale man in robes

© David Lewis family interests

This painting was originally part of a series of portraits of Christ and his apostles, known as an Apostolado in Spanish. El Greco was the first artist in Spain to paint the theme, probably around 1600. His first Apostolado was so successful that he painted at least five more.

This St John was probably painted at the end of El Greco's life. It has all the characteristics of his later work, including blurred facial features, free brushwork and sharp colours. It was probably ordered by a wealthy religious institution, as 13 canvases by El Greco would have been too expensive for an individual to buy.

'Pommiers dans une prairie'

Camille Pissarro

Landscape of person working in lush countryside

© David Lewis family interests

Pissarro is seen by some as the father of Impressionism. He was the oldest of the group and the only one to show in all eight of its exhibitions between 1874 and 1886. By the 1890s he was a committed anarchist and often included rural labourers in his paintings, as here.

By the mid 1880s Pissarro was living in the village of Eragny-sur-Epte (north-west of Paris). He converted a field barn into a studio where he worked. He briefly adopted a pointilliste technique, painting in dabs of pure colour, which give his paintings a bright luminous quality.