Speed unveils van Eyck’s ‘Virgin and Child’ from the Frick

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On loan: “Virgin and Child, with Saints and Donor,” about 1441-43.

Jan van Eyck  (c. 1390 to July 9, 1441) was one of the first artists to master oil paint. His skill rendering light effects and highlights made him internationally famous, according to The Courier-Journal.

“Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor” is being show in Kentucky for the first time. It’s on loan to the Speed for what amounts to a swap with the Frick Collection of New York. The Speed recently loaned Anthony van Dyck’s “Portrait of a Woman” to the Frick for a special exhibit on the artist. In return, the Frick is sharing its van Eyck painting with the Louisville museum.

The Frick acquired the painting in 1954; here’s how the museum describes it: The Virgin, holding the Child, stands in majesty on an Oriental carpet, enframed by a sumptuous brocade canopy and hanging inscribed AVE GRA[TIA] PLE[N]A (Hail [Mary] full of grace). She is attended by St. Barbara, with her attribute of the tower in which she was imprisoned rising behind her, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who gave up her crown to become a nun, and a kneeling Carthusian monk.

About the Speed

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and
closed Monday. Admission is free on Sundays through 2021 under a $1 million gift from Brown-Forman. Called “Owsley Sundays,” the program honors Owsley Brown II, who as CEO from 1993 to 2005, led the company’s transformation into a global company.

Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed in 1925 as a memorial to her husband, James Breckinridge Speed, a prominent Louisville businessman and philanthropist. It reopened to the public in March after closing in 2012 for a $50 million expansion.

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