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Sancho Panza recovers his lost donkey
Moreno Carbonero, José
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Moreno Carbonero, José

Málaga, 1860 - Madrid, 1942

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Sancho Panza recovers his lost donkey

Ca. 1894. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a significant number of Spanish writers and artists viewed themselves as heirs to the rich heritage of the Golden Age realist tradition, particularly the work of Miguel de Cervantes and Diego Velázquez. Their interpretation and imitation of those models lent nineteenth-century Spanish naturalism its particular character within the larger context of European literature and visual art. With artists´ concerted adoption of Cervantine references, the character of Don Quixote enjoyed a singularly prominent role. Not only was he treated as a literary archetype of the highest order, but, in the thinking of many from that period, he represented the best example of a characteristically Spanish way of being. Thus, in a time of political and ideological crisis when Spain was witnessing the end of its empire, Don Quixote served as a reaffirmation of national character. Furthermore, the presence by his side of his squire Sancho Panza -seen as no less typically Spanish- contributed likewise to the iconographic fortunes of Don Quixote among artists.Moreno Carbonero frequently represented scenes from Don Quixote, the result of his first sojourn in Paris in 1877, during which he was moved by nostalgia for his country and chose Cervantes´s classic novel as a source of material for his work. Subsequently, some of his works on Cervantine themes were presented in the leading exhibitions of the period, as was the case with this painting, which he sent to the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1895.At that point in his career, Moreno Carbonero had already earned great recognition as a painter of historical themes: gifted not only with enormous virtuosity in capturing the essence of a subject from the past, but also with extraordinary skill in recreating the atmosphere with considerable verisimilitude. He considered historical painting to warrant the greatest interest, and reflected on the genre in the report, titled La Naturaleza en el arte (Nature in art), that he prepared following his scholarship from the Spanish Academy in Rome from 1882 to 1885. His naturalistic eye and eagerness for verisimilitude, which he transported to subjects from the past, made him the artist best prepared to tackle episodes from Don Quixote. At the time, scholars working on Cervantes´s oeuvre, such as Francisco Rodríguez Marín (a friend of Moreno Carbonero), began to analyse the work according to the principles of the most rigorous philology. Their quest for objectivity led them to admire Moreno Carbonero´s efforts at presenting the various episodes without inappropriate or anachronistic elements. In recreating scenes with his precise naturalistic approach, Moreno Cabrero seemed to bring the novel, written three centuries prior, to life.This painting faithfully represents the passage from chapter 30 of the first part of Don Quixote, in which Sancho Panza finds his stolen donkey: Sancho went to his dun, and as he embraced it said, "And how have you been, my sweet, my darling dun, my boon companion"? And he kissed it and caressed it as if it were a human being.The width of the canvas allows the painter also to include the other characters present in the episode: Dorotea, Don Quixote, the priest, Cardenio and the barber. All of them appear in the same dress and manner -three astride their steeds, three on foot- in another painting titled Artificio para sacar a Don Quijote de Sierra Morena (The ingenious plan to extricate Don Quixote from the Sierra Morena), which corresponds to the previous chapter in the novel. Moreno Carbonero has depicted them with an almost photographic vision, framing them in such a way that seems entirely casual but that in fact offers a notable sense of equilibrium. Critics remarked on the realism of his representation of a highway unmistakeably from La Mancha, a motif that Moreno Carbonero had utilised on other occasions. Representing the subjects in full midday sunlight, in a quintessential Spanish landscape, Moreno Carbonero offers us the characters and their beasts of burden with a precision unequalled by other artists who engaged with this subject (Text drawn from Barón, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 242).

Technical data

Inventory number
Moreno Carbonero, José
Sancho Panza recovers his lost donkey
Ca. 1894
Height: 48 cm; Width: 78 cm
Legacy of María Josefa Barrios Aparicio for the Museo de Arte Moderno, 1953; Museo de Arte Moderno, 1953-1971; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2016

Bibliography +

Perez-Comendador, E., Academia Española de Bellas Artes en Roma. Primer Centenario 1873-1973, Ministero de Asuntos Exteriores, Madrid, 1973.

Ossorio y Bernard, M., Galería biográfica de artistas españoles del Siglo XIX, Giner, Madrid, 1975, pp. 468.

Pareja Lopez, E., Pintores de 1900, M de Cultura-Facultad BBAA Sevilla, Sevilla, 1983, pp. 48, nº18.

Pareja, E., Pintores Andaluces de 1900, Caja de Ahorros, Granada, 1985.

Izquierdo, R., Museo de Bellas Artes. Inventario de Pinturas, Museo de Bellas Artes, Sevilla, 1990, pp. 239.

Los Salones de Artal. Pintura Española en los Inicios del Siglo XX, Ministerio de Cultura, 1995, pp. nº35.

Reyero, Carlos, Cervantes y el mundo cervantino en la imaginación romántica, Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid, 1997, pp. 107 y 203, nº30.

Orihuela, Mercedes y Cenalmor, Elena, El ''Prado disperso''. Obras depositadas en Córdoba y Sevilla. II. Sevilla. Museo de Bellas Artes, Boletín del Museo del Prado, 20, Madrid, 2002, pp. 165.

Armero, Gonzalo, Cuatrocientos años de Don Quijote por el mundo, Tf Editores, 2005.

Barón, J., Reflejos del Quijote en Andalucia Del romanticismo a la modernidad, Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, Sevilla, 2006, pp. 131-132 nº72.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 242-243, nº89.

Díez, José Luis (dir.), Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado: catálogo general, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 423.

Other inventories +

Registros-Inventarios Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, 1900-1936. Núm. 407.

Inscriptions +

J. Moreno Carbonero
Signed. Front, lower right corner

MAM No407
Scrap of paper. Back

No 1295
Scrap of paper. Back

Nº 943
Scrap of paper. Back

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Málaga en la pintura del siglo XIX
14.04.2011 - 18.09.2011

Don Quijote y Andalucía. Siglo XIX y XX
24.01.2006 - 07.04.2006

400 años de Don Quijote por el mundo
17.11.2005 - 08.01.2006

Location +

Sevilla - Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla (Deposit)

Update date: 26-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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