At the beginning of a new year, 2023, the Shanghai Museum has teamed up with the National Gallery, London for the first time to launch a second exhibition of “A Dialogue with the World,” a series of arts and cultural relics shows: “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London,” telling its audience about more than four hundred years of European art history. As one of the leading art galleries in the world, the National Gallery has a history of nearly two hundred years and is ranked among the ten most popular art museums around the globe. Its prestigious collection of European painting is usually displayed within its home exhibition framework only and has rarely been put on any tour. Now, the Shanghai Museum takes enormous pride in having helped to make possible, as its only partner on the mainland of China, the National Gallery’s exhibition tour across Asia and in being the very first stop of the tour, allowing Chinese viewers to enjoy, without having to travel to London, watching the legendary paintings by European masters.
Painting, as an art, occupies a pivotal position in European civilization. The current art tour through more than four hundred years, arguably a classic in its own right, brings together the cream of the National Gallery collection. With eight sections, this exhibition presents, like a textbook for students of art, the entire evolution of painting from the Renaissance to the 19th-century Post-Impressionism by means of a selection of fifty-two works from fifty artists – a concise history of European art indeed. Here, you can abandon yourself to a glorious galaxy of artworks by such titans as Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Gossaert, Caravaggio, Poussin, Claude, Velázquez, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Constable, Turner, Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh. This experience not only is a great honor to the Shanghai Museum but also provides Chinese viewers with an opportunity to have a tête-à-tête with the pièces de résistance of European art in their original state and to be aesthetically edified in the growth and greatness of the European painting tradition.
In order to further enhance its cultural soft power and international influence, the Shanghai Museum has launched the Project of Great Museum during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, focusing on building three brands of exhibition series: “The Essence of China,” “A Dialogue with the World,” and “A History of China in 100 Objects.” Of the three, the second is committed especially to accelerating the construction of an open and inclusive world and to promoting exchanges and cross-fertilization among civilizations. Since its establishment seventy years ago, the Shanghai Museum has carried out in-depth cooperation with more than 182 institutions of arts and cultural relics at 105 cities in 28 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. This time, we continue to expand our international “circle of friends” and have worked with the National Gallery of the United Kingdom to prepare a sumptuous feast of visual art for the public. We hope that through the sharing and appreciation of the beauty of art, we will transcend civilizational barriers and conflicts through civilizational exchanges and cross-fertilization, help the peoples of all the countries in the world to better know and love each other, and jointly create a paradise of civilization with beauty in its diversity and integrity.