John the Baptist paintings together for the first time in a generation
From 30 March – 16 June 2019, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool will be exhibiting The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist by William Dobson (painted between 1640 and 1646) next to the original composition, Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist by Matthias Stom (painted around 1630 – 1632), on loan from the National Gallery for this display.
The two paintings will be reunited for the first time in a generation.
Dobson copied Stom’s painting probably while working at Charles I’s court in Oxford. This display will provide an opportunity to compare the paintings and explore the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe during the turbulent 1600s.
The display is a collaboration with the National Gallery Curatorial Traineeship Programme supported by Art Fund with the assistance of the Vivmar Foundation.
The Walker Art Gallery will also explore Baroque Europe and its tradition of copying by exhibiting other impressive and unseen 17th-century copies from its collection. These include St Jerome and a Rabbi after Guercino, which has never been displayed in the gallery before, as well as St Cecilia after Guido Reni and The Penitent Magdalene after Mateo Cerezo.
Kate O’Donoghue, National Gallery Curatorial Trainee supported by Art Fund with the assistance of the Vivmar Foundation, said:
“Baroque art is characterised by its drama, grandeur and emotive qualities. We want to connect British audiences with paintings from this era by focusing on the extraordinary story behind the Stom and Dobson works in particular. For just the second time since they were made about 380 years ago, and for the first time ever in Liverpool, these pictures will be reunited. Each is fascinating in its own right, but to see them together will be a rare and exciting opportunity. Dobson made some key changes in his version and viewing the works side by side will give us a chance to examine them up close. I think visitors will enjoy comparing them and spotting the differences.
“This display explores copying, which was common practice for painters in the 17th century. In the days before social media or sophisticated transport, copies were an essential way for artistic ideas to travel. The history of these paintings also encourages us to look at the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe at the time, a topical subject in our society now.”
Kate will be giving a free talk about these unique works and the fascinating stories behind them at the Walker Art Gallery at 12pm on Thursday 11 April.