Glasgow Life announces blockbuster Degas exhibition

© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

A new blockbuster exhibition showcasing Sir William Burrell’s complete collection of prized works by Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917) will open at The Burrell Collection on Friday 24 May 2024, Glasgow Life has announced.

Discovering Degas: Collecting in the Age of William Burrell is the first time visitors can marvel at all 23 Degas works from Burrell’s original collection together in one exhibition, including one from Berwick Museum and Art Gallery. These exquisite works will be enhanced by the display of around 50 further paintings, works on paper and sculptures on loan from some of the finest national and international collections in the UK and around the world.

Burrell’s first international exhibition since reopening in 2022 offers a unique opportunity to see an array of the finest works by one of the world’s most revered artists exhibited together. Almost 70% of the works are coming on loan from respected collections including The Courtauld, National Museums Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, The National Gallery London, The National Museum Cardiff, the National Galleries of Scotland, and Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

The loans are supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.

Pippa Stephenson-Sit, Curator of European Art at Glasgow Life Museums, who co-curated Discovering Degas said, “This spring, for the first time, visitors to the Burrell can explore Sir William Burrell’s incredible collection of works, by one of the world’s most revered artists, in its entirety. Discovering Degas promises to be a vibrant, engaging exhibition. We have drawn on everything that has made the Burrell so successful and distilled this into our Special Exhibition Programme. The exhibition will offer a unique introduction and fresh perspectives on a hugely popular art movement. We are indebted to the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund and the many national and international collections who have loaned significant works, enabling The Burrell to host what promises to be a breath-taking show.

“Degas was popular with British collectors at the turn of the 2oth century, who helped discover his appeal and innovation and his artworks remain extremely popular with visitors today. Indeed, we hope a whole new audience will discover Degas through this exhibition. This is also an important opportunity to better understand Degas in his entirety, both as a brilliant artist but also as a man whose opinions and ideas would not go unchallenged today. Above all, though, this exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity to view stunning international works, share the strength of Burrell’s legacy, and provide new ways for visitors to view and engage with our incredible collection.”

Discovering Degas gives local communities across Glasgow an exciting way to expand their connection with an exquisite collection that is housed in their city. At the same time the strength and connoisseurship of The Burrell Collection Degas works has assisted Glasgow Life Museums in fostering relationships with some of the greatest art institutions across the world, culminating in a world-class exhibition that will further strengthen the museum’s international appeal and standing.

Professor Frances Fowle, Senior Trustee, Sir William Burrell Trust said, “Degas’s work appealed to collectors like Sir William Burrell due to his skilful drawing, as well as his interest in portraying figures in movement. He was extraordinarily modern in his approach, working in a variety of media, adopting unexpected viewpoints and experimenting with bold colours and unusual light effects.

“This exhibition demonstrates the whole range of the artist’s output and creates a context for Burrell’s outstanding collection. Among those who developed a taste for Degas were other Glasgow shipbuilders like William McInnes, and several women, among them the yachting enthusiast Elizabeth Workman and the musician Rosalind Maitland.”

The exhibition will explore the collecting and buying of Degas artworks by Sir William Burrell and his wife Constance, Lady Burrell, who donated one of the single greatest gifts to the city of Glasgow. As shown in the exhibition through fascinating letters and other archival material, Burrell is amongst the earliest Scottish collectors to buy works by Degas. Over a 40-year collecting period Burrell bought over 20 artworks by Degas, far more than any other UK collector, spanning the artist’s career.

Discovering Degas positions these acquisitions in the context of other British collectors who, in the late 19th and early 20th century, were among the first to fully appreciate the artist and purchase his enduringly appealing works. The show goes on to consider the influence of art dealers, like Alexander Reid, who championed Degas and the artist’s incredible talent for capturing subjects like the ballet, racehorses, and scenes of modern life during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

An accompanying publication, bespoke public programme, and a symposium, offering new opportunities for academic study, will allow visitors to deepen their understanding of Degas’ appeal and learn more about his legacy in Britain.

Click here to book your Discovering Degas exhibition tickets.