arts

Museum reimagines masterpieces in the pandemic, complete with face masks

Updated 9th June 2020
John Everett Millais ,The Twins, Kate and Grace Hoare, in 1876
Credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum/FME, Cambridge
Museum reimagines masterpieces in the pandemic, complete with face masks
Written by Amy Woodyatt, CNN
A UK museum has released reimagined versions of some of its most loved masterpieces, with subjects donning face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, eastern England, was forced to close its doors to the public in March following the introduction of lockdown measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
John Everett Millais' "The Bridesmaid" (1851) with a decorated facemask to match her decorative dress.
John Everett Millais' "The Bridesmaid" (1851) with a decorated facemask to match her decorative dress. Credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum/FME, Cambridge
So the museum came up with an innovative way to raise money -- by showcasing artworks with the subjects wearing face masks, tailored to suit the style of each painting.
In John Everett Millais' "The Bridesmaid," the subject is adorned with a floral mask to match her decorative gown, while in Millais' 1876 "The Twins, Kate and Grace Hoare" the sisters wear face coverings as they prepare for an outing with their elegant dog.
"La Liseuse" (The Reader) by Belgian painter Alfred Émile Léopold Stevens in 1860, as imagined in the pandemic.
"La Liseuse" (The Reader) by Belgian painter Alfred Émile Léopold Stevens in 1860, as imagined in the pandemic. Credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum/FME, Cambridge
Meanwhile, in Dutch artist Jan van Meyer's portrait of "The Daughters of Sir Matthew Decker," the four girls don face masks to match their embroidered dresses -- and have even chosen to cover the face of their doll.
The reimagined artworks, which are part of the museum's "Fitzwilliam Masterpieces 2020 Edition" are being sold as greetings cards to support the museum through its closure.
"The daughters of Sir Matthew Decker," painted by Dutch artist Jan van Meyer in 1718.
"The daughters of Sir Matthew Decker," painted by Dutch artist Jan van Meyer in 1718. Credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum/FME, Cambridge
Luke Syson, the museum's director, said he hoped the pictures will provide some light relief.
"These doctored versions of some of the Fitz's great masterpieces wittily reimagine their protagonists as living at this moment. What a difference to our understanding of their actions and interactions the addition of a face-cover makes," Syson said in a statement.
"But perhaps they make a serious point too -- of how we expect to greet one another with hugs and kisses -- and how much changes when that's not possible. At least we can still laugh together. That's not changed. And I hope these might help,'' Syson added.
Titian's "Venus and Cupid with a Lute-player" (1555-1565).
Titian's "Venus and Cupid with a Lute-player" (1555-1565). Credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum/FME, Cambridge
Since the coronavirus pandemic has forced countries around the world to temporarily close public spaces, museums and galleries have had to think of innovative ways to engage patrons.
Some galleries have taken their exhibitions online, while artists have been forced to create work within the parameters of lockdown.