Exclusive: 16th century Botticelli masterpiece to go on display in Wakefield

Workers hang Sandro Botticelli's Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius  as part of the Stanley Spencer: Of Angels and Dirt exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield.  Picture Tony Johnson

Workers hang Sandro Botticelli's Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius as part of the Stanley Spencer: Of Angels and Dirt exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield. Picture Tony Johnson

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A 16th century painting by one of the most esteemed painters of all time, Sandro Botticelli, will be on display in Wakefield next week - the first time it was been loaned to UK venue outside of London.

Born in around 1445, Florentine artist Botticelli was immensely popular in his lifetime for his life-size mythological paintings and altarpieces.

Workers hang Sandro Botticelli's Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius  as part of the Stanley Spencer: Of Angels and Dirt exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield.  Picture Tony Johnson

Workers hang Sandro Botticelli's Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius as part of the Stanley Spencer: Of Angels and Dirt exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield. Picture Tony Johnson

His work continued to influence both art-lovers and artists well after his death in 1510 - including British artist Stanley Spencer.

Over 70 works spanning Spencer’s 45-year career are to go on display at the Hepworth Wakefield from next Saturday, the first major UK survey of his work in 15 years, held to mark the 125th anniversary of his birth.

As part of the exhibition, the Hepworth has secured the loan of Boticelli’s Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius (c1500) from London’s National Gallery to highlight the key influence of both Botticelli and the Italian masters on Spencer’s work - a real coup.

The Hepworth Wakefield curator Eleanor Clayton said: “Spencer loved visiting the National Gallery and drew great inspiration from the work of the early Italian painters he saw there, including Botticelli. The impact that these paintings had on Spencer’s work has often been remarked upon, but this will be the first chance for audiences to see for themselves a painting that Spencer saw, and the influence of this on his own works.

“I hope visitors will enjoy this rare opportunity of seeing this masterpiece, alongside so many of Spencer’s own, in Wakefield.”

Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius will be shown alongside books Spencer owned featuring the painting and some of his writing in which he discusses the ‘robustness, certitude and clarity’ of Botticelli’s work.

It is the first time British audiences outside of London will be able to see the piece.

The Hepworth has worked with Spencer’s family and collectors to put together the exhibition, which includes rarely seen works from private collections not seen for decades.

Spencer remains a favourite among British artists, and collectors included the late David Bowie, Adam Ant and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Stanley Spencer: Of Angels and Dirt opens on Saturday June 25 until October.

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