(A fine Rembrandt self-portrait is a highlight of SAM’s new show./Photo by Alan Berner, The Seattle Times)
The appropriately grand title of the sumptuous new exhibition at Seattle Art Museum is “Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London” (it’s paired with “European Masters: The Treasures of Seattle”). It’s show of portraits and landscapes purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, head of the Guinness beer empire, who, needless to say, had a lot of money to burn and a lot of walls to fill at the end of the 19th century. He purchased hundreds of paintings by some of the biggest names in art, many of them portraits of some of England’s biggest names. “Downton Abbey” viewers will recognize the style of these pieces — big paintings, big dresses and big hair adorn the subjects. The works are a fascinating look at the life and times of people who could collect such art and the people deemed worthy to be the subjects of it. (Read Seattle Times arts writer Michael Upchurch’s review here.)
SAM has a series of events planned around “Treausures of Kenwood House” this month:
–7 p.m. Feb. 15: A talk by Susan Jenkins, “Kenwood” curator and senior curator for special projects for English Heritage. The knowledgeable Jenkins is a delight to listen to, and her talk, about Kenwood House in London (also owned by Guinness) is sure to be time well-spent for fans of stately homes and stately art. SAM’s Plestcheeff Auditorium, $5-$10.
–10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 16: SAM Family Festival. Design costumes, take a dance lesson, listen to music, go on an “art adventure.” Fest is free, but there is a charge to see “Kenwood” for those 13 and older.
–10 a.m.-noon Feb. 23: Family Fun Portrait Workshop. Take a tour of “Kenwood,” then create your own portrait inspired by the exhibition. $7.50-$15.