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This summer at Burghley House step back in time to 17th Century Italy and experience the fascinating story of internationally celebrated artist Artemisia Gentileschi. Through a virtual reality experience, visitors can immerse themselves in the extraordinary story of Artemisia, whose painting Susannah and the Elders is one of the jewels in the crown of the Burghley art collection.

Narrated by musician and author, Cerys Matthews, “The Light in the Shadow” is experienced through virtual reality headsets and explores the fascinating story of one of today’s most celebrated Baroque artists. The 14-minute experience follows Artemisia’s journey as she navigates a world where women have virtually no rights to become one of Europe’s most accomplished and in-demand painters of her time who continues to capture imaginations today.

In the virtual reality experience, an unprecedented collection of Artemisia’s work is gathered into a single experience, where each viewer can admire the work in their own immersive world. One special piece which features in the experience is Burghley House’s very own Artemisia Gentileschi painting Susannah and the Elders. Purchased by the ninth Earl of Exeter whilst in Rome, the 400-year-old painting is Artemisia’s earliest-known work. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to view the historic painting which will be on display in the House for the duration of the exhibition. The painting is not normally on public display at Burghley, so it is a unique chance to view this extraordinary piece of art.

The Light in the Shadow has been created by UK based film and immersive production companies, Fat Red Bird (run by Gaëlle Mourre) and Monkey Frame (run by Quentin Darras) and co-produced by award-winning British writer, director, and producer Charlotte Mikkelborg. It is the latest episode in a (Hi)Story of a Painting series co-created by artist and filmmakers Gaëlle Mourre and Quentin Darras, with each episode focusing on a renowned painter. Aimed at engaging new audiences with art by creating accessible and relatable experiences, the series focuses on the human stories behind some of the world’s most iconic art. The visuals and virtual environment appear in support of the narration, helping to illustrate and anchor the narrator’s story in the viewer’s mind.

Co-creators Mourre and Darras said: “It’s such a treat to get to show our piece in as remarkable a place as this, one that offers viewers a rare opportunity for holistic immersion. To start the transition from the physical world into the virtual world before even putting on a headset is integral to a rich virtual reality experience and Burghley House naturally allows for this - the history, architecture and magnificent scenery create a wonderful sense of displacement.”

The Light in the Shadow’s Co-producer, Charlotte Mikkelborg, added: “Burghley's brilliant Curator Jon Culverhouse has been a key supporter of the project since I first reached out to him in September 2021.  With Burghley House's incredible art collection, from works as imposing as Verrio's Hell Staircase to exquisite miniatures like The Virgin and Child by Artemisia's father Orazio, we are beyond excited to be able to bring our VR experience here.”

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