Saturday 5 October 2019 - Sunday 5 January 2020
Nicolas Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan, a much-loved work from the National Gallery’s Collection, is travelling the UK in 2019.
The three venues for the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2019 are Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; York Art Gallery; and Auckland Castle, part of The Auckland Project, County Durham.
Over a period of one year the annual National Gallery Masterpiece Tour offers three museums and galleries outside London the opportunity to display a major work from the Gallery’s collection. The Gallery is committed to sharing the collection throughout the UK, and the Masterpiece Tour, made possible by the generous support of Christie’s, this year enables those in north and south west England to access one of its masterpieces in their own region.
The Triumph of Pan, 1636
This depiction of a mythical celebration shows nymphs and satyrs revelling before a statue of Pan, the god of woods and fields. Pan’s identity in this work may have been combined with that of Priapus, a deity of gardens. Both are associated with fertility and Bacchic ritual.
The painting contains a number of literary and visual references; the instruments being played, the sacrificial deer and the props in the foreground are all either attributes of Pan and Priapus, or are linked with such rites. These include panpipes, theatrical masks (comedy, tragedy and satire), and a shepherd’s staff.
This picture was commissioned by Cardinal de Richelieu and dispatched from Rome to Paris in May 1636. With its companion, ‘The Triumph of Bacchus’ (Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), it was designed to form part of the decoration of the Cabinet du Roi in the Château de Richelieu. There are a number of preparatory drawings by Poussin for this painting, including some in the collection of H.M. The Queen at Windsor Castle.
Image credit: Nicolas Poussin. The Triumph of Pan, 1636; Oil on canvas, 135.9 x 146 cm: Bought with contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1982 © The National Gallery, London