Almost 65,000 people visited the first ever monographic exhibit of Estonian Renaissance painter Michel Sittow, titled "Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe," during the just over three months that the exhibit was on display at Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn.
The exhibit, which was open from 8 June through 16 September, drew a total audience of over 64,000 people, including more than 11,000 during its final week, making it one of the most-visited exhibits in Kumu's history.
"In the last weeks in September in particular we have felt like the Louvre during a Delacroix exhibit," Kumu director Kadi Polli said. "The difference is that unlike in France, a big audience size like this is exceptional for Estonian museums and the art audience, putting the capabilities and limits of the museum's facilities, climate systems, education centre, personnel and store to the test."
The exhibit was accompanied by a diverse program that included special exhibit tours, concerts, theatrical performances by Theatrum in St. Nicholas' Museum, tours of locations connected to Sittow in Tallinn's medieval Old City as well as an international symposium. More than 500 children took part in exhibit tours of the master's class.
"Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe," was first displayed in Washington in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art earlier this year as part of the international programme celebrating the Estonian centennial.
Michel Sittow (ca 1469-1525) was a sought-after and highly respected artist at the courts of Renaissance Europe, who was born in Tallinn and acquired his art training in the studio of his father, Clawes van der Sittow, before heading to Bruges in 1484. Sittow worked in many royal courts, from Spain to the Netherlands, before eventually returning to Tallinn. Due to the artist's itinerant lifestyle, traces of his activities have been scattered, as a result of which he was forgotten for centuries following his death. For a long time, his paintings were attributed to the more famous masters of his era, such as Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein. Sittow's historical identity and Tallinn origins were not rediscovered until 1940.
The exhibit was curated by Greta Koppel from the Art Museum of Estonia and John Oliver Hand from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The international English-language exhibition catalogue by the curators was completed in time for the opening of the exhibit in Washington and published in collaboration with Yale University Press.
For the Kumu exhibit, a survey of the artist's life, work and connections to Tallinn was provided by an Estonian-language book about Sittow.
Editor: Aili Vahtla