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    Sunday, December 19th, 2010

    The Canadian Mona Lisa is a moniker that has been applied to Tom Thomson’s  The Jack Pine (1916-1917) pictured on the left. It is one of many paintings that will brighten up the 200th anniversary celebration at London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2011.  To mark the anniversary the gallery will exhibit twelve masterpieces from around the world, one each month. Included are works by Velazquez, Vermeer, El Greco, Veronese, Rembrandt, Ingres, Van Gogh, Gainsborough, Constable and Hockney.  The main summer exhibition will focus on work by Nicolas Poussin and Cy Twombly. In October the gallery will show Thom Thomson and the Group of Seven, 20th century  landscape painters seeking to find the language of the Canadian wilderness.
    The gallery was set up in 1811 when Sir Francis Bourgeois left a newly established collection to Dulwich College.  He and his business partner Noel Desenfans were asked in 1790 by the King of Poland to form a royal collection from scratch. During the five years they devoted to building it the King was forced to abdicate and the independent state of Poland ceased to exist.  So a boys school in south London became owner  of a national collection of old masters with no nation to claim it.  The gallery became independent from the school in 1994.