Great Art is introduced by curator and broadcaster Tim Marlow, Artistic Director of The Royal Academy of Arts, and features a host of eminent art experts, providing the perfect guides to history’s artistic greats. The series is adapted from full-length films originally released in cinemas under Exhibition on Screen and broadcast on Sky Arts.
Part 1: Canaletto and the Art of Venice
We start with an immersive journey into the life and art of Venice’s famous view-painter Canaletto. The film also offers the chance to step inside two official royal residences – Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle – to learn more about the artist and Joseph Smith, the man who introduced Canaletto to Britain. The programme visits some of the sites immortalised in Canaletto’s views, from the Rialto Bridge to the Piazza San Marco, and the Palazzo Ducale to the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Featuring contributions from Royal Collection curators and the world’s leading experts in Venetian history.
Part 2: The Impressionists and the Man who Made them
Monet, Cezanne, Degas and Renoir are some of the world’s most popular artists. Their works, and that of their contemporaries, fetch tens of millions of dollars around the globe. Who were they and how exactly did they paint? To help answer these questions, this film focuses on the man credited with inventing impressionism as we know it – 19th-century Parisian art collector Paul Durand-Ruel. It was his brave decision to back these radical artists and then, on the verge of bankruptcy, to exhibit them in New York in 1886 that created impressionism as we know it. Thanks to his sales to enlightened wealthy Americans that subsequently filled US galleries with impressionist masterworks, Durand-Ruel kept impressionism alive at a time when it faced complete failure. This film tells his remarkable story, along with that of the impressionists themselves.
Part 3: Michelangelo: Love and Death
The spectacular sculptures and paintings of Michelangelo seem so familiar to us, but what do we really know about this Renaissance genius, and who was this ambitious and passionate man? A virtuoso craftsman, Michelangelo’s artistry is evident in everything that he touched. Spanning his 89 years, this episode takes a cinematic journey from the print and drawing rooms of Europe through the great chapels and museums of Florence, Rome and the Vatican to explore the tempestuous life of Michelangelo.
Part 4: Rembrandt from the National Gallery and Rijksmuseum
Every Rembrandt exhibition is eagerly anticipated, but a once-in-a-lifetime show at London’s National Gallery and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum that took 15 years to prepare was remarkable. With exclusive and privileged access to both galleries, this film documents this landmark exhibition while interweaving Rembrandt’s life story with behind-the-scenes preparations at these world-famous institutions. Rembrandt is the greatest artist that ever lived to many, and this film seeks to explore the truth.
Part 5: Girl with a Pearl Earring and Other Treasures from the Mauritshuis
‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most enduring paintings in the history of art, but despite its popularity, the painting itself is surrounded by mystery. Who was this girl, why and how was it painted, and why is it so revered? This film takes us on a journey through the masterpieces of the extensively-renovated Mauritshuis in The Hague in the Netherlands to try to answer many of the questions surrounding this enigmatic painting and its mysterious creator.