Saint Rosalia paintings by Sir Anthony van Dyck to be reunited at Dulwich Picture Gallery

By Ruth Hazard | 19 December 2011
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An image of a 17th century oil painting of a woman with long hair against a grey foreboding sky surrounded by angels
Van Dyck, St Rosalie Crowned with Roses by two Angels (1624). Oil on canvas. Apsley House, Wellington Museum, English Heritage© English Heritage Photo Library
All five remaining Saint Rosalia paintings by Sir Anthony van Dyck will be reunited for the first time at Dulwich Picture Gallery in a major exhibition in 2012.

Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague will focus on the prolific year and a half van Dyck spent in Sicily between 1624 and 1625. The full 16 works he painted during his year in Palermo have never been shown together before.

The most significant group of paintings are the images of Palermo's patron saint, Rosalia. Through these works, van Dyck created the iconography of the saint still used today.

Plague struck the city just after he arrived in, killing most of the population. The same year the bones of Saint Rosalia were discovered in a cave in Monte Pellegrino, where she was said to have died as a hermit during the Middle Ages.

After a procession, in which Rosalia’s bones were carried through Palermo, the plague ended. She was immediately declared protector of the city and van Dyck painted a series of images showing the Saint warding off the plague.

The exhibition is the second in the Melosi Series: Rediscovering old Masters and brings together van Dyck paintings from America, Spain, London and Puerto Rico, allowing them to be seen in the same room for the very first time.

  • Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague, 1624-25 runs February 15 - May 27 2012
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