THE country’s first exhibition outside of London dedicated to 17th-century artist Guido Reni opens at The Bowes Museum this weekend.

The Power and the Virtue: Guido Reni’s The Death Of Lucretia celebrates the Italian Baroque master, his importance in Western art along with his female heroines and representations of female beauty.

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The Barnard Castle venue presents works from prestigious public and private collections, including The National Gallery and The Royal Collection, and will unveil new research on pieces in its own collection.

The exhibition, which runs until January 20 next year, will feature The Death of Lucretia from The Bowes Museum’s collection since the 1840s. It has been the focus of a multidisciplinary investigation in collaboration with Northumbria University and the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow to determine its attribution to Reni.

Bernadette Petti, exhibition curator, said: “Guido Reni was considered the most talented of the pupils in the school of the Carracci and he was the painter who successfully managed to revise Raphael’s manner by using a graceful and delicate brushwork that revealed a technical mastery both in fresco and painting, and the profound study of the pictorial tradition and imagery to achieve a formal perfection. Reni’s fame and his popularity was recognised well beyond Italy and it is not surprising that Henrietta Maria of France, Queen Consort of King Charles I of England, demonstrated an avid admiration for him.”

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Essays, gallery talks, lectures, a film screening, dance workshops, concerts and a special display of costumes inspired by the exhibition and created by the Northern School of Art, will accompany the exhibition.

There will also be debates and ‘in conversation’ events with associations of women and the art-based education and training company Changing Relations, based in County Durham. Female-led Darlington-based artist collective blimey! has teamed up with the museum and Creative Darlington for a project exploring ideas about the painting with public events in various venues, including Crown Street Gallery in Darlington next spring.

The events aim to offer a unique opportunity to engage with the exhibition themes and stimulate a wider response to Guido Reni’s work from specialists, university students and the public.