150-year-old painting to feature in Durham exhibition

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A 150-year-old painting by the German artist Franz Von Rohden is set to go on display to the public for the first time at the Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre.

The work, which is claimed to be worth tens of thousands of pounds, is an example from the Nazarene school of painting and depicts the Virgin Mary, St John and Mary Magdalene looking at Jesus on the cross.

Rohden’s contemporaries described the piece as “a miracle of art and the finest picture of the subject that ever was painted”.

Since the 1850s Ushaw College housed the masterpiece as part of a large collection of artwork that is now being rediscovered following the college’s closure in 2011.

The exhibition is being organised by Dr. Stefano Cracolici from Durham University’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures in collaboration with staff from the university’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

Dr Stefano Cracolici said “This truly is a wonderful painting from one of the finest collections of Nazarene art in the world. It is a real pleasure to be exhibiting this painting to the public.”

The Department of Chemistry is also planning to conduct analysis of the painting’s colours during the exhibition by using techniques that are currently applied to study the ink of Durham Cathedral’s manuscripts.

Dr Cracolici said “This analysis will allow us to verify whether Rohden employed pigments commonly used in the pre-modern era, which, if confirmed, could open new and exciting ideas on current Nazarene research”.

The exhibition, which precedes a much larger display of Nazarene and pre-Raphaelite works due to be held in Durham in 2019, will be open to the public free of charge from Saturday 1st February until Friday 28th February.

Photograph Courtesy of: Durham University 

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