SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Arts Center, the state’s premiere center for visual and performing arts, presents "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" exhibition, on view June 7-Sept. 8 in the Townsend Wolfe and Jeannette Edris Rockefeller Galleries.

The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and English Heritage. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, with additional funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

In-kind support is provided by Barbara and Richard S. Lane.

"We’re delighted to be partnering with American Federation of Arts and English Heritage to present this incredibly enriching international endeavor at the Arkansas Arts Center," said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman.

"This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in the presence of some of the greatest works of art ever created, and I couldn’t be prouder to afford this opportunity to Arkansans."

Within the exhibition are masterworks by Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony Van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, J.M.W. Turner, Francois Boucher, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Albert Cuyp, Francesco Guardi and Joseph Wright of Derby, a veritable survey of the most influential European artists of the 17th through the 19th century.

Among the works in the exhibition is Rembrandt van Rijn’s sublime "Portrait of the Artist" (ca. 1665), one of the artist’s last self-portraits and one of only a few of his many self-portraits that show him in the act of painting. This painting is considered by many to be his greatest self-portrait.

Visitors will experience Thomas Gainsborough’s life-size painting, "Mary, Countess Howe." The portrait was only the third life-size full-length portrait that Gainsborough ever painted, and it demonstrates his success at emulating the portraiture style of Anthony Van Dyck, the Flemish painter who came to London in the early 1600s and defined the ideal of aristocratic elegance more than 150 years before Gainsborough painted Countess Howe. Van Dyck is represented in the exhibition with the full length, life-sized portrait, "Princess Henrietta of Lorraine Attended by a Page."

This exceptional painting collection, known as the Iveagh Bequest, resides at Kenwood House, a neoclassical villa in London. The last owner of Kenwood House was Edward Cecil Guinness, the first Earl of Iveagh and heir to the world’s most successful brewery.

A leading art collector, he acquired a variety of works typical of an English country house collection of the time including British portraits and landscapes alongside similar works by 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists.

Lord Iveagh donated Kenwood along with its art to Britain when he died in 1927. Today, the house and gardens are opened to the public and are landmark tourist attractions that draw millions of visitors a year.

Now for the first time, due to a renovation of the villa, the world-famous collection will travel to the United States, where 48 of the greatest works of the Iveagh Bequest will be exhibited.

The four-city tour of the United States includes the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas; the Milwaukee Art Museum, in Milwaukee, Wis.; the Seattle Art Museum, in Seattle, Wash.; and the final stop on the tour, the Arkansas Arts Center.

Many of the works have never traveled to the United States before or even been exhibited outside Kenwood.

This is the first time a Rembrandt painting will be exhibited in Arkansas, and this is the last chance to see these beautiful paintings before they return to London.

This event is presented in Arkansas by Bank of the Ozarks, Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. and the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The event is sponsored in Arkansas by Chucki and Curt Bradbury, Sandra and Bob Connor, Remmel T. Dickinson and Lisenne Rockefeller.

Arkansas Arts Center members are invited to a member reception for "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" on Thursday, June 6 from 7-9 p.m. Members will enjoy music, cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres. At 6 p.m. in the Lecture Hall, Julius Bryant, FSA, Keeper of Word and Image at the Victoria and Albert Museum, will present a lecture entitled, "Kenwood: From Guinness to Gainsboroughs."

For more information, visit www.arkarts.com or call 501-372-4000.