El Greco’s Pentecost sixth Masterpiece in De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam
Thanks to a generous loan by Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Masterpiece 2017 in De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam will feature El Greco’s Pentecostés (Pentecost). From 18 February to 9 April 2017 the painting will be on exhibit in the sixth edition of Masterpiece. The series features works of art so extraordinary that they are almost never loaned out, because of their fragility or their status as beloved favourites. Many of the works featured in the series have an obvious or unexpected religious or spiritual dimension. Each one is a work that calls for contemplation and introspection and dazzles visitors in the breath-taking surroundings of De Nieuwe Kerk’s gothic interior.
A life-size representation on canvas of the 2001 reconstruction of the altarpiece will be part of the exhibition in De Nieuwe Kerk. The altarpiece was dedicated in Madrid in 1600 and removed by the Inquisition in 1814. It featured seven works by El Greco, one of which was Pentecost. Each painting depicted an episode in the life of Jesus, with scenes such as the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Pentecost shows the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the apostles like flames of fire. The expressionist nature of this work, the blocks of vivid colour, the unusual vertical composition and the unnatural light reveal El Greco’s unique signature. This powerful work is a perfect example of the highly personal style of his later paintings. The apostle depicted second from the right is presumed to be a self-portrait.
Music and film
Three experts have compiled a special Spotify playlist for Masterpiece to enrich the visitor’s experience. Classical music DJ Von Rosenthal, musicologist Sylvester Beelaert and curator Birgit Boelens have selected inspirational pieces of music that complement the exhibition.
The documentary El Greco: An Artist’s Odyssey is an exploration of El Greco’s artistic life in the later half of the sixteenth century, and takes the viewer on a journey from Greece to Venice and Rome and to Madrid and Toledo.
Opera and lectures
Composer and guitar virtuoso Eric Vaarzon Morel will play a special concert on the evening of Friday 17 March with highlights from his flamenco opera El Greco de Toledo, accompanied by mezzo soprano Eline Welle and Oene van Geel on violin. Inspiring lectures will be given by curator Birgit Boelens (Saturday 25 February) and El Greco expert Eric Storm (Saturday 8 April).
De Nieuwe Kerk’s Masterpiece series
In 2011, De Nieuwe Kerk initiated a new tradition of displaying a religious Masterpiece from a museum or private collection every autumn, starting with The Holy Family by Rembrandt (1645) and The Last Supper by Andy Warhol (1986) in 2012. The featured choice may be related to any world religion. In each case, it will be an important work that calls for contemplation and introspection, that dazzles from the sanctuary, and that invites people to make a ‘pilgrimage’, as it were, to come and see it.
Rembrandt’s The Holy Family (2011)
Andy Warhol’s The Last Supper (2012)
Francis Bacon’s triptych In Memory of George Dyer (2014)
Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall) / Fire Woman by Bill Viola (2015)
Marc Chagall’s Calvary (2016)