Director of National Gallery opens Plymouth exhibition about Plymouth-born predecessor Eastlake
The current director of the National Gallery, Dr. Nicholas Penny, travelled to Plymouth to attend the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery's opening of a new exhibit about Plymouth's own Charles Lock Eastlake – the very first man to hold that office from 1855 till his death in 1965 .
The new exhibition contains works loaned by the National Gallery to Plymouth Museum, that were originally procured by Eastlake during his time in office, as well as works documenting Eastlake's upbringing in Plymouth.
"Charles Eastlake was a very important figure in the world of art, not only in the England, but also in Europe. He was a driving force behind many changes in the museum world. You could say his professionalism helped change the nature of museums and that he was the first to contextualise art in English museums by reinventing the way it was arranged and presented," Dr. Nicholas Penny said.
The exhibition gives you a chance to see some of the great works of art he was able to acquire for the museum, works of his friends and contemporaries like J.M.W. Turner and pieces that display his connection to Plymouth.
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"At the time Charles Eastlake was growing up in Plymouth, the city had a lively and vibrant art scene. He was part of that scene during his formative years. I think Charles Eastlake can be described as one of Plymouth's slightly forgotten sons and the exhibition shows local people a glimpse of someone they can take much pride in," Emma Philip, Curator of Fine Art at Plymouth Museum said.
To raise awareness about the exhibition and Charles Eastlake, the museum are arranging a series off special events that will be aimed at children, young people and families through a series of Young Explainers event, arranged together with students from Plymouth University.
"We will have things like special activities for children and historic walks in the city. What we are hoping to do is make art interesting to these groups by involving them in history they don't know about by turning that history into stories," Sarah Hodge, project manager of Young Explainers said.
Charles Eastlake was born in Plymouth in 1793. He was inspired by another local painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds and set out to be historical painter. He spent 14 years of his life living in Rome, before he moved back to England, settling in London. He became known as a writer on art, and as an arts administrator. He became the president of the Royal Academy in 1850, and the first Director of the National Gallery after its reconstitution in 1855.
The Charles Eastlake exhibition is on display from September 22'nd till December 15th at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.