Cambridge: The Fitzwilliam Museum Highlights

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Today we celebrate the reopening of The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Its collection ranges from renowned Renaissance works to some of the finest Impressionist paintings. Today we are going to explore some of the many masterpieces that the gallery has to offer.

Hidden amongst the beautiful cobbled streets and college greens of Cambridge lies The Fitzwilliam Museum. Founded in 1861, the museum boasts one of the UK’s most impressive collections. There are half a million artworks and objects from many different periods and movements. Appropriately, these treasures are housed in a magnificent building which we enter through an impressive Palladian hall.

Fitzwilliam Museum interior
Interior of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England, UK. Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Let us now explore some of the specific highlights on view.

The Fitzwilliam’s Renaissance gems

Domenico Veneziano, The Annunciation

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Domenico Veneziano, The Annunciation
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Domenico Veneziano, The Annunciation, 1442-8, tempera on panel, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK. 

A number of Italian Renaissance paintings and drawings are among some of the earliest artworks in the collection. An Annunciation painting by Domenico Veneziano is perhaps one of the most famous. However, there are also several much earlier Renaissance works by different Italian schools on display.

Leonardo, A Rider on a Rearing Horse

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Leonardo da Vinci, A Rider on a Rearing Horse
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Leonardo da Vinci, A Rider on a Rearing Horse, 1481-1519, metal-point, brown ink and pen on paper, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

The collection also contains a number of fantastic drawings. This action shot of someone riding a rearing horse is by Leonardo da Vinci.

Sebastiano del Piombo, Madonna and Child

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Sebastiano del Piombo, Madonna and Child
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Sebastiano del Piombo, Madonna and Child, c.1485, oil on panel, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

Perhaps one of my favourite paintings in the collection is Sebastiano del Piombo’s tondo shaped Madonna and Child. It is an unusual work by the artist, with a interesting approach to color and detail.

Perugino, Virgin and Child

Perugino Virgin and Child Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Perugino, Virgin and Child, 1515, tempera on panel, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

Perugino’s 1515 painting of a Virgin and Child takes a much more classical approach. The result is both beautiful and intriguing. The Madonna’s eyes seem to follow you at whichever angle you view the painting.

Titian, Venus and Cupid with a Lute Player

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Titian, Venus and Cupid with a Lute Player
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Titian, Venus and Cupid with a Lute Player, 1555-65, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

Looking at Titian’s Venus and Cupid with a Lute Player, it is easy to forget that you are in the UK. Instead, you feel instantly transported to the very similar and famous Venus of Urbino on view in Florence.

The 17th and 18th Centuries at the Fitzwilliam

Rubens, The Union of Earth and Water

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Peter Paul Rubens, The Union of Earth and Water,
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Peter Paul Rubens, The Union of Earth and Water, 1620, oil on panel, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

This stunning painting by Rubens takes us into the 17th century. It is very characteristic of the artist’s style.

Frans Hals, Portrait of an Unknown Man

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Frans Hals Fitzwilliam Museum Frans Hals, Portrait of an Unknown Man
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Frans Hals, Portrait of an Unknown Man, 1660-63, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

It is the same with Portrait of an Unknown Man. This painting is instantly recognisable as a masterpiece by Frans Hals. With echoes of the Laughing Cavalier in London, this portrait is painted with great clarity and skill.

Gainsborough, Heneage Lloyd and His Sister, Lucy

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Thomas Gainsborough, Heneage Lloyd and His Sister, Lucy,
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Thomas Gainsborough, Heneage Lloyd and His Sister, Lucy, 1750, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

Another quintessential painting in the collection is this famous work by Thomas Gainsborough. Here the British artist has painted the children of Sir Richard Savage Lloyd of Hintlesham Hall, Suffolk.

Hans Holbein, William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Holbein Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Hans Holbein the Younger, William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, after 1793, oil on panel, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

This impressive portrait of William Fitzwilliam by Hans Holbein is a real treasure of British art.

Pre-Raphaelite works

John Everett Millais, The Bridesmaid

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: John Everett Millais, The Bridesmaid,
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: John Everett Millais, The Bridesmaid, 1851, oil on panel, 27.9 x 20.3 cm, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

The collection includes some Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings. One of these is The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais. Millais was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In this work he illustrates a Victorian marriage tradition. It was believed that if the bridesmaid passed a piece of wedding cake through a ring nine times she would see a vision of her true love. This is the scene Millais captures here.

The Fitzwilliam’s Impressionist works

Renoir, Place Clichy

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Renoir at the Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Place Clichy, 1880, oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

The museum holds a significant number of Impressionist paintings. One of these is Place Clichy by Renoir. This painting clearly illustrates the unique style of this great French Impressionist artist.

Pissarro, Haymaking

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Camille Pissarro, Haymaking
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Camille Pissarro, Haymaking, 1874, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

The beautiful colors in this landscape of Normandy in France have been captured by Pissarro. The soft pastel tones create a vision that leaves visitors to the gallery in awe.

Sisley, The Flood at Port-Marly

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Alfred Sisley, The Flood at Port-Marly,
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Alfred Sisley, The Flood at Port-Marly, 1876, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

In The Flood at Port-Marly, Alfred Sisley has produced a magnificient landscape for us to cast our eyes over.

Monet, The Rock Needle and Porte d’Aval

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Claude Monet, The Rock Needle and Porte d'Aval, Etretat
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Claude Monet, The Rock Needle and Porte d’Aval, Etretat, 1885, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

A definite highlight of The Fitzwilliam Museum is the collection of paintings by Claude Monet. One of his most famous works, a vision of blue and purple beauty, is The Rock Needle and Porte d’Aval, Etretat.

Monet, Poplars

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Claude Monet, Poplars, 1891, oil on canvas
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Claude Monet, Poplars, 1891, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

Another beautiful Monet painting is Poplars. This was painted when the artist 51 years old. You could recognise the painting as a Monet masterpiece from miles away, due to his characteristic use of color.

Post-1900 artworks

Matisse, The Studio under the Eaves

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Matisse Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Henri Matisse, The Studio under the Eaves, 1903, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

The Fitzwilliam holds a large collection of artworks produced post-1900s. One of the most memorable is The Studio under the Eaves by Henri Matisse. The painting is not like the bright colors and abstract shapes that the artist is best remembered for. Instead, this painting is dark yet it remains fascinating, nonetheless.

L.S. Lowry, Procession

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Lowry Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Laurence Stephen Lowry, Procession, 1938, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

In 1938, Laurence Stephen Lowry painted this enigmatic scene, which now sits in The Fitzwilliam. His style is encapsulated in the pleasant and busy winter scene.

Stanley Spencer, Self Portrait

The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Stanley Spencer at The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum highlights: Stanley Spencer, Self Portrait, 1939, oil on canvas, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. Art UK.

Stanley Spencer’s Self Portrait is our final memorable painting from the collection. Here the artist paints himself holding a paintbrush and looking intently towards the viewer.

The Fitzwilliam Collection summarised

It goes without saying that The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has one of the largest and most diverse collections of art in the UK. It encompasses artworks from a variety of art movements and from all across the World.

So, next time you are looking for a leisurely stroll around a museum, consider travelling to Cambridge. Come and witness this hidden gem for yourself. You will not be disappointed!


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Cambridge: The Fitzwilliam Museum Highlights was first posted on September 18, 2020 at 5:00 am.
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