Psssst! It’s a Poussin.

Nicolas Poussin’s masterpiece The Triumph of Pan is touring the UK this year and its first stop will be Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery, where it will be on show from 11 April 2019.

As part of The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2019, the prominent 17th-century painting will be shown alongside works from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s own art collection.

Exploring the timeless relevance of the Classical in art and design, the display will reflect on Bath’s Roman and Georgian heritage and will include works by artists as diverse as Thomas Malton, Jean Claude Nattes and Grayson Perry.

victoria art gallery
Jon Benington – Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery

Jon Benington, Victoria Art Gallery Manager, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as the first venue for the 2019 Masterpiece Tour, and look forward to seeing The Triumph of Pan displayed at the Victoria Art Gallery, where local residents and visitors to Bath will be able to see it for free.”

Over a period of one year the annual National Gallery Masterpiece Tour offers three museums and galleries outside London the opportunity to display a major work from the Gallery’s collection. After the Victoria Art Gallery, The Triumph of Pan will travel to York Art Gallery and Auckland Castle, County Durham. The Tour is made possible by the generous support of Christie’s.

Nicolas Poussin. The Triumph of Pan. © The National Gallery, London. Bought with contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1982

The Triumph of Pan was painted by Nicolas Poussin in Rome in 1636. Poussin had arrived in Rome from his native France in 1624 and was elected to the Rome Academy in 1632. This and its companion piece, The Triumph of Bacchus, which is now in Kansas City, were commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu to be displayed in the Cabinet du Roi in his chateau alongside masterpieces from the collection of Isabella D’Este in Mantua.

The painting will be on display from 11 April to 7 July 2019, in the Victoria Art Gallery’s upper gallery, which is free to visit.

Lecture by Nina Cahill from the National Gallery

Nina Cahill, McCrindle Curatorial Fellow of Paintings (1600-1800) at The National Gallery, will give a public lecture about The Triumph of Pan on Wednesday 22 May 2019, at 6.30pm at The Guildhall.

Tickets (£5.00 / £3.00 concessions) are available from Bath Box Office.

Nicolas Poussin

The Triumph of Pan, 1636

This depiction of a mythical celebration shows nymphs and satyrs revelling before a statue of Pan, the god of woods and fields. Pan’s identity in this work may have been combined with that of Priapus, a deity of gardens. Both are associated with fertility and Bacchic ritual.

The painting contains a number of literary and visual references; the instruments being played, the sacrificial deer and the props in the foreground are all either attributes of Pan and Priapus, or are linked with such rites. These include panpipes, theatrical masks (comedy, tragedy and satire), and a shepherd’s staff. This picture was commissioned by Cardinal de Richelieu and dispatched from Rome to Paris in May 1636.

With its companion, The Triumph of Bacchus (Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), it was designed to form part of the decoration of the Cabinet du Roi in the Château de Richelieu. There are a number of preparatory drawings by Poussin for this painting, including some in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle.

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century.

The collection includes works by Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo da Vinci, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. More at