Home Again: Rare Pirosmani on Display in National Gallery

A rare artwork by famous Georgian painter Niko Pirosmanishvili (Pirosmani), Arsenal Hill at Night, bought by philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili at a Christie’s auction on June 1, 2015, has been returned to the Georgian people. Moreover, from July 21 it is available at the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery next to other artworks by Pirosmani.

“This picture was last exhibited here in 1919, and I am glad that it is back,” said Eka Kiknadze, curator of the National Gallery. “From today, Georgians and visitors can see this beautiful Pirosmani creation for themselves.”

The highest-earning of Pirosmani’s creations, Arsenal Hill at Night had a long trip back home, having been in the possession of various owners over the years and sold at Sotheby’s and MacDougall’s auctions in 2007 and 2010 respectively. This year it was discovered that the artwork would be sold at a Christie’s auction, but the Georgian National Museum Fund did not have sufficient finances to purchase it.

Georgia’s former Prime Minister, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili bought Arsenal Hill at Night for 1,486,100 USD and donated it to the Georgian National Museum. After going through all the legal procedures, the artwork became part of the Contemporary Georgian Arts Fund of the Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts, where the biggest collection of Pirosmani artworks is displayed.

“According to experts of the Georgian National Museum, the painting remains in an almost perfect condition. Despite the fact that our country has kept a sufficiently large collection of works by Pirosmani, it would be incomplete without this wonderful picture,” said Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze.

All visitors to the National Gallery will have the chance to see the famous artwork during the whole week free of charge, starting from the July 21, 2015. Arsenal Hill at Night itself will be on display for six months.

Eka Karsaulidze

23 July 2015 22:35