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Revealing Tintoretto

June 30th, 2017

AGO Director and CEO Stephan Jost with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in front of Tintoretto’s Christ Washing His Disciples’ Feet. Screen capture courtesy of the President of the Italian Republic, YouTube.

Exciting moments are unfolding on a regular basis around here, as galleries continue to re-open as part of Look:Forward, our massive reinstallation of the AGO Collection. Works that haven’t been on view in years are making their reappearance, and new favourites are taking root in visitors’ minds.

The Reuben Wells Leonard Memorial Gallery, located on the east side of Level 1, is now home to works from the European Collection that span the 1300s to 1500s. They reflect the immense shift experienced in Europe throughout those years: the emergence of the middle class and the modern city, the invention and innovation of countless new technologies, and the emergence of science. The majority of people in Europe identified as Catholics, and the church patronized the arts as a way of communicating its values and teachings widely. Towards the end of the 1400s, and across Europe, people began to resist the church’s unchecked authority and to protest its seductive use of images.  The works in this gallery reflect their makers’ and owners’ relationship to the church and to other societal institutions.  The earlier sumptuous devotional images contrast starkly with the later and more earthly depictions of everyday life.

One of the most anticipated works to be unveiled is an Italian painting that has not been on display in several years. Jacopo Tintoretto’s Christ Washing His Disciples’ Feet, from around 1545-1555, is a beautiful, large-scale oil painting on canvas, gifted to the AGO in 1959. Its magnificent size and Tintoretto’s masterful technique make it a standout, especially against a background of deep purple paint in the newly refreshed gallery.

Guess who was on hand to view this work for the very first time upon being reinstalled? None other than Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy! President Mattarella was on a week-long trip to Canada that took him to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. We’re delighted that he made time to stop by and see the works in Leonard Gallery. He also took in the beautiful landscapes of Lawren Harris as part of the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art, and was treated to views of Dundas Street from Galleria Italia. Watch his visit below:

The Reuben Wells Leonard Memorial Gallery also features impressive works by Bartolommeo di Giovanni, Breughel (both the elder and the younger), Master of the Kress Epiphany, Claeissens and others. Come on in to escape from your to-do list for a few minutes, and marvel at these masterworks.

The AGO Collection is included in general admission, and is always free to Members.

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