Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia

'Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia' is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see in one place some of the most renowned works of art celebrating the rich and distinctive culture and artistic heritage of East Anglia.

From antiquity through to the present day, the exhibition also marks the unveiling of the newly-refurbished galleries at the Norman Foster-designed Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.

Opening on 14 September, this is the most ambitious exhibition ever staged in the region and will also be a major feature of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the University of East Anglia.

So what can you expect to see? The extraordinarily diverse selection of masterworks will range from paintings, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, glass and jewellery to photography, graphic design, fashion and costume, product and textile design all told, more than 250 exhibits.

The juxtapositions promise to be spectacular: the Happisburgh flint handaxe worked at least 700,000 years ago will sit alongside an ironstone pebble from the same Norfolk beach carved into a reclining figure by Henry Moore in 1930; striking pre-war posters and prints will hang in galleries with works by John Sell Cotman and John Constable; a masterly Thomas Gainsborough family portrait will be shown alongside haunting images of Edwardian fishermen by Olive Edis; sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Elisabeth Frink will be interspersed with sculptural works from the Classical, Medieval and Renaissance periods; Ana Maria Pacheco’s mythical party in a gigantic boat will be moored in the East Gallery whilst the iconic black Lotus JPS sports car takes up pole position in the West End.

Other highlights include the iconic portrait of Nelson, on loan from the National Gallery;  the striking life-size bronze head of the Roman emperor Claudius (r. 41-54 AD) that Boudicca looted from Colchester; the silver, gold and bejewelled King John Cup; pioneering photographic images of Cromer and Sheringham fishermen;  and a painting of Great Yarmouth by J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Travelling by train? The Blue Line 25 takes you from Thorpe Station straight to the University of East Anglia, where signs will direct you to the Sainsbury Centre.


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