AN EXHIBITION showcasing a national masterpiece has started at The Beacon Museum.

The Whitehaven and District Amateur Operatic Society joined the opening in Georgian Period Costume and people were entertained with music from group Piping Hot.

Jean-Simeon Chardin’s iconic work, painted during the Age of Louis XV in France and the Georgian period here, of a young boy building a house out of playing cards is viewed as a work of national importance.

The piece is on loan to the harbourside museum from The National Gallery as part of its Masterpiece Tour 2021-23, which offers only three venues outside of London the chance to loan one major work from its collection each year.

Through the partnership, the museum is developing new ways to engage with visitors, community groups and schools.

An artist in residence will be delivering workshops for local voluntary groups and services, which will use a range of creative approaches to develop ideas and aims to break down barriers to accessing culture, and develop a new community exhibition within the museum.

There will be an opportunity for the public to meet the artist in residence, Alexandra Jakob-Whitworth, on October 29.

The exhibition will also provide local expertly restored historical artwork, storytelling and handling workshops using artefacts from the collection, including toys from the Georgian period, for schools and visitors.

Alan Gillon, Learning Officer at The Beacon Museum, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to see a painting of national importance rarely seen outside of London.

“Whitehaven is nationally known as a Georgian gem so to have a masterpiece from that era is incredibly exciting.

“We’re really looking forward to working with local groups and services to showcase some of their own artworks that will be created under the guidance of our local resident artist.

“This will allow their friends, family and supporters to come and see their work displayed alongside the historical masterpiece.

“We hope this creates a real sense of pride for those involved, and is part of our drive to ensure art becomes more accessible to our communities.”

The exhibition will run until January 23, 2022.