The Museo del Prado opens its “Invited Work” programme with a painting from the Musée du Louvre, The penitent Magdalen by Georges de La Tour

The President of the French Republic, Nicolás Sarkozy, and his wife, accompanied by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofía, this afternoon saw the work that launches the Museo del Prado’s “Invited Work” programme. This is one of the most poetic and beautiful paintings by the Lorraine master Georges de La Tour and is normally to be seen in the Musée du Louvre. The tour also included a visit to the first thematic gallery that the Prado is devoting to the early Bourbons as part of its current project of rearranging and expanding its displays. Both the temporary exhibition of the painting from the Louvre, which will remain at the Prado for two months, and the new display of Bourbon portraits in the room that previously housed Goya’s 2nd and 3rd of May, are sponsored by Fundación AXA.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

The State visit to Spain of the President of the French Republic and his visit to the Museo del Prado in the company of Their Majesties the King and Queen, happily coincided with the inauguration at the Prado of the new “Invited Work” programme. This programme opens with the loan of Georges de La Tour’s The penitent Magdalen from France’s leading art museum and with opening of a new gallery on Bourbon portraits in French painting. In addition, these two initiatives are sponsored by one of the Prado’s most long-standing benefactors, Fundación AXA, which has close links to France. The first “invited work” will remain on display at the Prado until 28 June in Room 5, alongside the two paintings by La Tour in the Prado’s own collection: Old Man playing the Hurdy-gurdy and the recently rediscovered Saint Jerome reading.

With its “Invited Work” programme, the Museo del Prado is inaugurating a new type of exhibition whose aim is to bring visitors closer to some of the most important works in other museums, with the dual objective of enriching a visit to the Prado and of establishing terms of comparison that will allow for a reflection on the Prado’s own paintings.

The painting chosen to launch the programme, The penitent Magdalen by Georges de La Tour, depicts Mary Magdalen, symbol of redemption through repentance, in a nocturnal setting illuminated by the light of a candle that creates pronounced contrasts on her instruments of meditation: sacred texts, the cross and the skull, an emblem of death. Together these objects create one of Georges de La Tour’s most beautiful still lifes. The artist depicts the Magdalen as delicate and thus quite different to the rough, everyday nature of his rustic peasants, soldiers or street musicians who are far removed from the meditative, spiritual mood of this work.

In association with the temporary display of this painting in the Prado, on 28 May at 7pm a special lecture will by given in the Museum’s Auditorium by José Milicua, Emeritus Professor at the University of Barcelona and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Museo del Prado.

Collaboration between the Museo del Prado and the Musée du Louvre

Henri Loyette, Director of the Musée du Louvre, and Miguel Zugaza, Director of the Museo del Prado, accompanied by Gabriele Finaldi, Associate Director of Curatorship at the Prado, this morning set out some of the details of the new and fruitful relationship between the two museums. This collaboration not only involves the presentation of the first painting in the “Invited Work” programme, loaned from the Louvre and of particular importance within the context of the Prado’s collection, but also future research and exhibition projects that will focus on the joint organisation of three temporary exhibitions over the next few years.

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