Degas’s masterpiece to come to Gallery Oldham

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study © The National Gallery, London


Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study, a much-loved work from the National Gallery’s Collection, is travelling the UK in 2020.

The three venues for the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2020 are: Kirkby Gallery, Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside, and Gallery Oldham.

Over a period of one year the annual National Gallery Masterpiece Tour offers three cultural venues outside London the opportunity to display a major work from the Gallery’s collection. The Gallery is committed to sharing the collection throughout the UK and the Masterpiece Tour, made possible by the generous support of Christie’s, this year enables those in north-west England and Wales to access one of its masterpieces in their own region.


Kirkby Gallery (27 April – 11 July 2020)
Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside (17 July – 3 October 2020)
Gallery Oldham (9 October 2020 – 2 January 2021)


Kirkby Gallery
27 April – 11 July 2020

Kirkby Gallery kicks off the Masterpiece Tour by presenting this major artwork by Degas centre stage within the gallery. Providing a fitting and historical context to the work, it will be shown alongside ‘Making an Impression: Prints by Manet, Pissarro and their Contemporaries’; a touring exhibition on loan from the Ashmolean Museum. While the wider exhibition explores Impressionism through printmaking, depicting characteristic subjects such as modern city life, portraits and landscape, Degas’s masterpiece presents an intriguing domestic scene which will offer visitors the opportunity to explore ideas around portraiture.

Other featured artists in ‘Making an Impression’ include Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt. The exhibition will also seek to explain the fascinating connections between Degas and the featured Impressionists, which will serve to explore their artistic practice and personal/professional relationships.

Councillor Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Community and Neighbourhoods said: ‘We are excited to have been selected as the first venue for the 2020 Masterpiece Tour of Degas’s ‘Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study’ (about 1886). We know that our schools and communities will absolutely love this wonderful Degas painting, and the exhibition and education programme surrounding it, and we are really looking forward to welcoming many, many residents and visitors to Kirkby Gallery.’


Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside, Haverfordwest, Wales
17 July – 3 October 2020

At Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside, Degas’s Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study will form the centrepiece in an exhibition drawn from the National Welsh Portrait Collection at The National Library of Wales. The exhibition will contextualise the painting through an exploration of the female form in art, and analyse the theory of the male gaze in portraits through the eyes of both female and male artists such as Seren Morgan Jones and Sir Kyffin Williams.

Mike Cavanagh, Head of Cultural, Leisure, Tourism and Registration Services for Pembrokeshire County Council said: ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the Masterpiece Tour during our second year of opening in 2020. The arrival of the Degas will have a huge impact on the community and the county’s many visitors, and will inspire, illuminate and raise ambition within the county.’


Gallery Oldham
9 October 2020 – 2 January 2021

The title of Degas’ Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study suggests that it is a portrait of a young woman. When one looks more closely, however, the stories the painting tells are all about Hélène’s father, Henri Rouart. The exhibition at Gallery Oldham will ask: Is this really a portrait of Hélène, or of her father?

This is the starting point for Gallery Oldham to explore the ways in which women are represented within its collections. Gallery Oldham holds many portraits in which the woman is not named. Sometimes she is described as ‘wife’ or ‘daughter’, sometimes the title completely ignores the fact there is a woman in the portrait at all. This exciting National Gallery partnership will offer an opportunity to try and uncover the identities of some of these sitters, and to find out more about those who we know little.

Councillor Sean Feilding, Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Enterprise, said: ‘We feel privileged that the National Gallery has chosen Oldham to display this famous piece of work. We pride ourselves in displaying the best art from the best artists around the world, for residents and visitors to enjoy. The artwork will be a popular one and I encourage visitors to come and see this ‘masterpiece’, find out more about the existing work in Gallery Oldham and discover more about the famous women in the gallery’s collections. This painting is another great addition to an ever-growing programme of cultural activities in Oldham and I’ll certainly be making a trip to the gallery to view it.’

‘The Masterpiece Tour’ is part of the National Gallery’s commitment to promote the understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of Old Master paintings to as wide an audience as possible. This opportunity is being made possible by the generous support of Christie’s.

In 2019 Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan went on display at Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; York Art Gallery; and Auckland Castle, part of the Auckland Project, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, with audiences of nearly 50,000.

Orlando Rock, Chairman of Christie’s UK, said: ‘Christie’s strongly believes in the role that art and collecting play in the world today, and in the vital importance of art being accessible to all, so we are delighted to be supporting the National Gallery’s Masterpiece Tour again. Regional museums play a vital role in enriching the cultural life of the country, and this work will be a significant additional draw for visitors to the Kirby, Haverfordwest and Oldham Galleries this year.’

National Gallery Director Dr Gabriele Finaldi said: ‘Degas’s Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study is one of the latest portrait’s in the National Gallery’s Collection. It is also one of the most interesting. I am delighted that it will be travelling to Merseyside, Pembrokeshire and Oldham where it will be presented in quite different contexts with superb accompanying programmes.’


The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2021-23

The National Gallery is now seeking three venues (non-London museums, galleries and art centres) to become our Masterpiece partners for the next three years, beginning in 2021 with the tour of Jean-Siméon Chardin The House of Cards, about 1740-1. More information can be found here: