Way back in April 2012 we agreed to lend the Yale Centre of British Art a painting from our collection for their extravagant exhibition Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century.
The exhibition opened on 28 February 2013 and closes on 2 June 2013 so if you are in New Haven, Connecticut, USA in the next few days make sure you visit and hunt out The Death of the Year painted around 1912 by Charles Sims.
When requesting the painting, the Yale Centre for British Art let us know that “Edwardian Opulence is the first major international exhibition in more than a generation to survey the full depth and breadth of the visual arts in Britain during the opening decade of the twentieth century. Languishing in a liminal position between the expansive Victorian era and the advent of the Modern, this momentous period in the history of British art has suffered from two lingering afternoon or coda to the Victorian period, while the opposing view maintains that the era in fact constitued a time of rising polititcal, cultural, imperial, and artistic upheaval that would eventually upend every aspect of British life and lead straight into the abyss of the Great War…”
Our curators describe The Death of the Year as “the personification of the dying year as a woman lying on her back in a river with one hand raised in a dark landscape illuminated by candles. The personification of the new year to come as a naked infant seated floating on the water at right.” The exhibition curators describe it as a ‘drift of snow’ and suggest the model for the painting to be a poem by Percy Bysse Shelley titled Dirge for the Year written in 1821.
Along with Te Papa the lenders to Edwardian Opulence are public art museums and private individuals spread over four continents. The exhibition is accompanied by a lavish publication, full of beautiful images, that is a delight to read.
Te Papa is very pleased to be able to make our collections available to magnificant exhibition such as this. I encourage you to check it out at the venue, on line or via the spectacular publiction.