Along with the van Goghs, including The Starry Night, came paintings by Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Pierre Bonnard, Claude Monet, Maurice Denis, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Edouard Vuillard, among many others, courtesy of the Musée D’Orsay, Paris, that has closed for a refit.
Unpacking a van Gogh is a breathtaking experience, says Adam Worrall, assistant director at the NGA. “We all gasped when we opened the crate with Starry Night. The colours are startling.”
So valuable are the paintings in the exhibition that the federal government had to indemnify them – insurance was impossible – and eight separate planes were used to transport the collection in case of an accident.
Not only are these paintings sublimely beautiful, but they “represent the turning point between Impressionism and all modern art that followed”, says joint exhibition curator Lucina Ward.
Save yourself the $2000-plus airfare to Paris and pay a visit to Canberra instead. Entry is $25. Buy a catalogue and compare the experience of seeing the real paintings and their reproductions. There’s simply no comparison.