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    “Copernicus” at The National Gallery

    Since Friday, the National Gallery in London has been showing the exhibition Conversations with God – Jan Matejko’s Copernicus, whose main element is the painting ‘Astronomer Copernicus’, on loan from Kraków’s historic Collegium Novum at the Jagiellonian University.

    The first time in history a Polish painting exhibited at the National Gallery in London.


    The opening date of the exhibition was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic, which kept museums and galleries closed for weeks. They did not reopen in England until Monday.


    “The show was postponed twice, the pandemic kept us in suspense until the end, but it all worked out. The exhibition is the result of a partnership between The National Gallery and the Jagiellonian University Museum, which lent this beautiful painting, the National Museum in Kraków, which lent the sketch for the painting and Matejko’s self-portrait, and the Polish Cultural Institute in London, all of which would not have been possible without the financial support of the “Niepodległa” program and the Ministry of Culture” – said Marta de Zuniga, director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, during the press screening.


    Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, also pointed to the good cooperation between British and Polish institutions, which was particularly important during the pandemic, when deadlines changed. As he said, the first talks about showing a Polish artist in the gallery started four years ago.


    As a measure of this good cooperation, the British Minister of Culture, Oliver Dowden, came to see the exhibition together with the Polish Ambassador to the UK, Arkady Rzegocki, for a special screening before it opened to the public.


    Dating from 1873, and measuring 225 cm by 315 cm, the painting “Astronomer Copernicus”, was painted by Matejko to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. The exhibition also includes a copy of Copernicus’ most important work, “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, dating from 1543 and normally housed in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, astronomical instruments from the collection of the Jagiellonian University Museum in Kraków, Matejko’s self-portrait and the study “Copernicus. Conversations with the God” from the National Museum in Kraków. The exhibition will be on display until August 22.


    Located in Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is Britain’s most important gallery of paintings and one of the most visited museums in the world. Its collection includes about 2,300 paintings, mostly by Western European painters, from the mid-13th century to 1900. Artists whose works are displayed there include Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, Titian, Sandro Botticelli, Jan van Eyck, Claude Monet, Diego Velazquez, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.



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