Landmark Spanish portrait exhibition opens

20th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 October 2004, MADRID- The works of 30 of Spain's most famous artists went on show Wednesday in a new exhibition at the Prado showing the evolution of portraiture over five centuries.

20 October 2004

MADRID- The works of 30 of Spain's most famous artists went on show Wednesday in a new exhibition at the Prado showing the evolution of portraiture over five centuries.

The exhibition at the Madrid's most well-known museum marks the first appearance of a Picasso in the institution he would have headed but for the eruption of Spain's Civil War in 1936.

The exhibition "Spanish Portraits: From El Greco to Picasso," which runs to 6 February, was inaugurated by Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia.

The exhibit's 87 paintings, many of which will be shown for the first time in Spain, include Diego Velazquez's "The Infanta Margarita in a Blue Gown" and "Portrait of a Girl," Bartolome Murillo's "Don Justino de Neve" and Francisco de Goya's "Duchess of Alba."

The exhibition traces the evolution of the portraiture, beginning with 15th-century works by Bermejo and Berruguete and continuing in chronological order through the central hall to the museum's Gallery No. XII, where Velazquez's most renowned painting, "Las Meninas" is on display.

The chronological order is purposely interrupted at times, however, to allow side-by-side comparisons of the works of artists from different periods.

In the museum's central hall, "The Infanta Margarita in a Blue Gown" hangs alongside Picasso's "Woman in Blue," while the two versions of Goya's "Duchess of Alba" - one dressed in black, the other in white - are displayed together for the first time.

"Las Meninas" hangs next to Goya's "The Family of Charles IV," continuing the "compare and contrast" concept pursued by Prado director Miguel Zugaza, who calls the exhibit "our family album."

Also on display are "Don Miguel de Mañara," by Juan de Valdes, El Greco's "Friar Hortensio Felix Paravicino," and "Principe Felipe el Prospero," by Velazquez. Portraits by Miro and Picasso conclude the show.

The exhibit also showcases masterpieces by Ribera, Zurbaran, Juan Gris, Titian, Moro, Sanchez Coello, Madrazo, Rosales, Zuloaga and Gutierrez Solanan that defined the rules of portraiture in each period.

Royalty, courtiers, clergy, jesters and the artists themselves are the subjects of many of the paintings.

While some of the portraits come from the museum's own collection, others are on loan from the Hispanic Society of America in New York, the museums of Vienna, Seville, Bilbao, Chicago, Boston, Valencia, Milan, Berlin and Fort Worth, Picasso museums in Barcelona and Paris, London's National Gallery, Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza, New York's Metropolitan and Paris' Louvre and D'Orsay.

The "return" of Picasso to El Prado is significant, as he was appointed director of the institution in 1936, though the outbreak that year of the Spanish Civil War prevented him from taking up the post.

Seven of Picasso's works were included, said exhibition curator Javier Portus, "as links in the tradition of Spanish portraiture".

The exhibition is an art history lesson, whose key players are the artists themselves and their dialogue and relationships.

Art critic Francisco Calvo Serraller said: "The exhibition's principal merit... lies in not having circumscribed itself to the conventional limits of traditional art, but dared to confront its survival in the historic vanguard of the 20th century."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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