Crowds waiting in line for the exhibition, 1976. Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The exhibition Master Paintings from the Hermitage and the State Russian Museum opens later that month.
“Undisputedly,” Roger Selby (1934–1995), “this exhibition comprises the greatest collection of Old Masters ever shown in Manitoba and provides a brief but exquisite course in the history of art from the 16th through the early 20th centuries.” Curator Ann Davis adds, “If one were to make a list of the world’s one hundred best paintings, at least 30 works in this exhibition would probably be on this list.” The exhibition includes 42 major canvases by, among others, Caravaggio (1571–1610), Titian (c. 1488–1576), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), Rubens (1577–1640), Rembrandt (1606–1669), Cézanne (1839–1906), Matisse (1869–1954), Gauguin (1848–1903), and Picasso (1881–1973). In order to bring the exhibition to Winnipeg in compliance with Soviet regulations, the provincial government is required to pass the controversial Bill 56, immunizing the Hermitage and State collections from foreign seizure. Over the exhibition’s six-week run at the WAG, attendance reaches over 66,000 people.