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Artworks by Portuguese artist Paula Rego on display at National Museum Cardiff

Two important artworks by Portugese-born artist Paula Rego (b.1935) will go on display at National Museum Cardiff from 2 September 2021. The works have been acquired by the Derek Williams Trust for their collection in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

Picture of woman looking at Paulo Rego painting

The Trust has acquired two of Rego’s pastels The Visitation and The Death of the Virgin Mary from the series representing the Life Cycle of the Virgin Mary, which she created in 2002 after being invited by the Portuguese President to make work for the chapel in the official Palace of Bélem. Rego completed twelve works, eight to be installed in the chapel and four (slightly larger) to keep for herself.

The two works will be part of the collection of the Derek Williams Trust who work closely with Amgueddfa Cymru to collect post-1900 fine and applied art.

The Trust collects and supports the collection of modern and contemporary Welsh art as well as from the U.K. and international art. Since 1992 The Trust has been central to the development of one of the UK’s outstanding collections of modern and contemporary art.

Paula Rego is an internationally renowned artist and a pioneer of modern figurative painting. She has earned a distinguished reputation with her characteristically unsettling pictures which suggest ambiguous relationships and uncertain narratives, told from a female perspective. A major retrospective of Paula Rego’s work is currently on display at Tate Britain.

Characteristically, Rego has refused to follow the safe and positive artistic tradition of telling the story of the Virgin’s life, telling it instead from the point of view of Mary herself. In The Visitation, the Virgin is disturbingly young, a teenage girl receiving news of her pregnancy from two women who seem conspiratorial and far from sympathetic. In The Death of the Virgin, the scene is conveyed with a complete lack of sentimentality, the body of the Virgin aged and stiff in contrast to the traditional depiction of a young, beautifully robed woman about to ascend to Heaven.

David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said,

““We are thrilled to be able to show these works by the internationally renowned Paula Rego here in Cardiff, especially at a time when there is such deserved interest in the artist.

“We are committed to continuing to share contemporary art with the people of Wales with the vital support of the Derek Williams Trust, whose unique contribution to the visual arts will provide a lasting legacy for the people of Wales.”


William Wilkins of the Derek Williams Trust, said, “The Trust is privileged to have been able to acquire these important works from Paula Rego's family. She is one of the outstanding figurative artists of our age.”


Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven national museums in Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum, the National Roman Legion Museum, Big Pit National Coal Museum, the National Wool Museum, the National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum. Entry to each museum is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.