Arrival of van Gogh ‘selfie’ painting in Cardiff could provide a lifeline for National Museum

Art lovers are being asked to make a small donation when they come to visit

A VINCENT van Gogh self-portrait is coming to Cardiff’s National Museum as part of an art exchange with France that will see the much-loved Blue Lady canvas go in the other direction.

It is hoped that the arrival of a painting by such a celebrated artist will bring a much-needed boost to the museum.

The museum is free for visitors, but its chief executive said that if everyone who comes to see the van Gogh work made a small donation, it would make a big difference.

Jane Richardson, said: “It’s getting tougher. Costs are getting bigger for everyone – and we’re no exception.

“By paying as little as £1 you will help us to create new, inspiring ways for people to come and enjoy the national collection and the world’s most celebrated artists.”

Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of the Artist (1887) will be on display in Wales for the first time, featuring as part of a new exhibition The Art of the Selfie.

Vincent Van Gogh – Portrait of the Artist (1887)© RMN-Grand Palais / Adrien Didierjean / RMN-GP / Dist. Foto SCALA, Florence

The exhibition, which will run from March 16, 2024, to January 24, 2025, will explore the question: Is a self-portrait the original selfie?. Portrait of the Artist will be joined by work from other artists including Rembrandt, Brenda Chamberlain, Francis Bacon, Bedwyr Williams and Anya Paintsil.

“Together, they showcase a wide range of different methods and artistic approaches to the concept of a self-portrait,” said a statement from the museum.

 “We are delighted to welcome van Gogh’s self-portrait to Wales,” said Dr Kath Davies, director of collections and research and the National Museum. “I am sure visitors to the museum will enjoy seeing this work by one of the world’s best-known painters.”

The arrival of Portrait of the Artist will see Renoir’s La Parisienne – often referred to as The Blue Lady – re-homed in Musee d’Orsay, Paris. The piece was part of the ‘Davies Sister’s collection’ donated to the museum in 1951 which “completely transformed its art collection in character quality and range”.

The Blue Lady has been on virtually continuous display at the National Museum since then but will not return until 2025. In Paris, it will form part of the Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism exhibition, displayed from March 26.

The loan marks the end of the Welsh Government’s Wales in France year which aimed to cement stronger cultural, sports and business ties between the two countries.  

“What a fitting way to close our year of Wales in France,” said Dawn Bowden, deputy minister for sport at the Senedd. “We now welcome this iconic van Gogh self-portrait to the National Museum Cardiff thanks to the friendships we have made across the Channel,” she said.

Tickets for The Art of the Selfie are available to book from Monday, February 12, here.