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Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny

21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

This exhibition brings together 281 works from the collections of the Museo del Prado, all characterised by their small format, technical mastery, exquisite brushstroke, sophisticated colour and the presence of hidden details that encourage close-up observation of these cabinet paintings, preparatory sketches, small portraits, sculptures and reliefs. Half of the works have not been on regular display at the Prado in recent years; kept in storage or on long-term loan to other institutions, they have to some extent been obscured by the more famous and popular works in the collection that always attract most attention. Nonetheless, they are of equal merit, interest and beauty. The uniqueness of the Prado lies in the extremely high quality of its collections, the excellent state of conservation of its works and the variety of its holdings, assembled over the centuries by successive Spanish monarchs and through the gifts and acquisitions made from the 19th century onwards.The works in the exhibition are displayed in seventeen galleries with a primarily chronological ordering, giving rise to a fascinating survey that begins in late 14th century in Italy, France and the Low Countries and concludes in 19th-century Spain. This concentrated focus provokes an awareness of the passing of time, which unites past and present, and also reveals the uniqueness and richness of the Museo del Pradotoday. In addition, the relationships between different artistic media and geographical origins bring to light technical and stylistic similarities and differences in works by major artists. The dialogues established between these works have much to say about the importance of outside influences or, conversely, of local tradition. In some cases the subject-matter takes priority over the artists and their styles, encouraging the viewer to consider the different ways in which northernand southern European artists depicted the same theme. The result is a comprehensive vision of European artand its significance, ranging from the Middle Ages to late 19th-century naturalism and encompassing the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo.The Prado has undertaken a significant project of cleaning and restoring the works on display in order to present them in optimum condition and thus to allow for an appreciation of the particular type of beauty hidden within paintings and sculptures of this size. It is only with perfect tonal relations on the pictorial surface and through the transparency ofthe varnish that the precision of the brushstrokes can be seen, which in turn allows the viewer to fully appreciate the meaning and significance of the figures and their actions,the poetry of landscapes and the striking presence of still lifes. Small-format works of this type need to be in very good condition in order to reveal the artist’s original intention, both in the case of those executed in a precise, meticulous technique and others characterised by a degree of abstraction that borders on an expressive violence, as in some of the preparatory sketches on display.In the present exhibition devotional painting leads on to mythological themes, while landscape becomes anautonomous genre in the 16th century. Portraiture is present from the outset, characterised by melancholy (one of the intrinsic qualities of art and of artists), satire, ironic reflection on the human condition and an exaltation of power, before it moves towards an emphasis on real, everyday, bourgeois life in parallel with the rise of the middle classes in the late 18th century.Works of this type allowed artists to demonstrate their creative imagination as well as their technical mastery and capacity for innovation, leading them to use new materials in order to achieve different effects. Wood, the habitual support for the earlier works, thus gives way to canvas, copper plate, slate, tin plate and artificial stones, each of which determines the specific nature of the pictorial surface, as is also the case with the marble, alabaster, polychrome wood, clay and bronze used to create the sculptures on display here.

Curator:
Manuela Mena, Chief Curator of 18th-century Art and Goya

Access

Room A and B, ground floor. Jerónimos Building

Opening time

Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm. Sunday and holidays from 10am to 7pm

Supported by:
Fundación BBVA

Multimedia

Exhibition

Room I

Room I
Atenea Partenos
Taller romano
Sculpted, 98 x 36 cm
130 - 150
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

«To see reality, look twice. To see beauty, only look once.»

Henry F. Amiel, Private Diary (1821-81)

Pallas Athena welcomes visitors to this exhibition in the form of a reduced-size, white marble version of the famous, 2nd-century BC sculpture by Phidias. As goddess of war and patron of the city, her 12-metre high image presided over Athens from inside the Parthenon. In the 2nd century AD Pausanias described its eff ect: “The image is made of ivory and gold. In the centre of the helmet is a fi gure of the Sphinx […] with sculpted gryphons on either side of it […]. Athena is standing, her mantle falling almost to her feet and her breast inset with an ivory head of Medusa. She supports a Victory fi gure measuring approximately 4 cubits high and a spear in the other hand, with a shield by her feet and a snake that may be Ericthonius near the spear.” The fact that the Prado’s beautiful and restrained Roman version was sculpted without any war-like attributes meant that she was seen as the goddess of Wisdom and the Arts, and as such she now presides over the galleries in this exhibition and the works in them. By looking through the interior windows visitors can see further rooms in which sculptures, Renaissance paintings and 17th-century still lifes lead on to displays of works from later centuries. One side of a small, 15th-century Flemish painting of Christ emerging from the tomb beside Saint Veronica’s veil — his “true image” and the subject of profound devotion in the Middle Ages — invites us to continue into the next gallery and discover the work’s other side, in an interplay of visual encounters that characterises this exhibition.

Room II

Room II
Los Desposorios de la Virgen / Cristo Patiens
Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina
Oil on panel
45 x 29 cm
1470 - 1500
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

A 14th-century rock crystal, copper and ivory cross opens this impressive survey of small-format works of art. The earliest paintings are predella panels on the lives of saints and the Virgin, including scenes of Saint Eligius by the Master of the Madonna della Misericordia and others from Fra Angelico’s innovative Annunciation with its Euclidian perspective.
Devotional painting is represented by small works that could function as portable altarpieces with a donor fi gure, including the early 15th-century French panel in which Louis I d’Orléans prays before the Agony in the Garden in an early, exquisitely detailed landscape. Another example is The Betrothal of the Virgin by the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine, with a man in front of a typical northern European street. Single portraits principally depict monarchs and leading nobles.

The saints and the Virgin are set against gold backgrounds or in graceful Gothic and Renaissance architectural settings in works by Campin, Petrus Christus, Memling and Mantegna that make use of this rational order or natural landscape settings, as in the painting by the Master of Hoogstraten, to convey the divine mystery. The classical world is refl ected in the gods and heroes depicted at an early date in Italian art with all the beauty of human proportions, in the presence of the architectural orders and in the admiration for antique clothing and objects evident, for example, in Mantegna’s serene Apostles and in the handsome youths depicted by the Aspertinis on the front of marriage chests made for nuptial chambers; intimate spaces accessed here through an opening in the wall that focuses our gaze on their moralising scenes.

Room III

Room III
Crossing the River Styx
Patinir, Joachim
Oil on panel
64 x 103 cm
1520 - 1524
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Although painted in the 15th century, Rogier van der Weyden’s solemn Pietà looks forward to the transformation
of the following century. The old order had changed and Dürer now depicted himself as a gentleman (rejecting
the traditional servile status of the artist), located before a window opening onto the ancient frontier of the Alps
and towards an uncertain future. Like Heraclitus, man now became aware that “God is day and night, winter and
summer, war and peace, abundance and famine.” This new, ambiguous and uncertain mood meant that Europe was
no longer the centre of the universe. Nor, in the light of Copernicus’s discoveries, was the Earth, which had extended
its boundaries towards the New World, as suggested by Patinir in Charon crossing the Styx. The fact that madness no
longer solely pertained to the gods but also aff ected man is evident in Bosch’s Extraction of the Stone of Madness, while the new and equal status of individuals of other races and colours is expressed in The Adoration of the Magi by the Pseudo-Blesius in which the Christ Child is located on an unstable axis between David, the warrior king, and Solomon, the wise monarch. The saints now look away from the viewer, aware of their sins and temptations, while even the fi gure of the scourged or wounded Christ no longer brings consolation to suff ering humanity but rather the punishment of the Last Judgment and the certainty of Hell, as depicted by Bosch in his Table of the Seven Deadly Sins, repeated in the form of numerous imitations by his followers that were to be found in 16th-century collections.

Room IV

Room IV
Meleagro
Cosini, Silvio
Sculpted
108 x 40 cm
Ca. 1540
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Presiding over this space devoted to sculpture is the fi gure of a Renaissance monarch: Philip II, a great art lover and patron of artists such as Titian. The king is represented in a small bust attributed to the Italian sculptor Pompeo Leoni who was one of Philip’s favourite artists. As with painting, sculpture could also be expressed in small formats without losing any of its grandeur in order to fi t into domestic spaces dedicated to the cult of antiquity. Works of this type include the wounded Meleager, an exquisite example of Tuscan Mannerism by Silvio Cosini, and some almost transparent alabaster reliefs. An art form favoured by the powerful, the essentially noble nature of sculpture meant that it could be used to emphasise the glory of these patrons and to immortalise their features. During the Renaissance it also involved the recovery of the Roman portrait type, as in the above-mentioned bust of Philip II and the relief of Francesco I de’Medici by the Flemish-born sculptor Giambologna who worked in Florence. Dürer’s infl uence is also evident in the ivory copy by the prolifi c German sculptor Hering Loy of his famous print of Adam and Eve, which constituted a summary of his study of human proportions. A rare articulated manikin attributed to Dürer or his immediate circle refl ects a similar interest in the human body and its proportions. It points to a new artistic practice based on the habitual drawing of models from life or, when not available, of small manikins such as this one, with bodies and limbs that could be adjusted to create diff erent poses.

Room V

Room V
The Holy Family with a Lamb
Raphael
Oil on panel
28 x 21 cm
1507
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The principal work in this gallery is a sculpture of Aphrodite, which is a reduced-scale, Roman copy of a celebrated lost original of the 5th century BC. For its part, the brief period of perfect, classical harmony summarised in Raphael’s Holy Family with the Lamb finds a gentler echo in Andrea del Sarto’s tiny Saint John the Baptist with the Lamb, while the Venetian taste for colour, atmosphere and sumptuousness is fully expressed in Veronese’s The Finding of Moses. Venetian innovations in chiaroscuro, in the form of nocturnal scenes and daring contrasts of light and shade, are evident in Jacopo Bassano’s Adoration of the Shepherds and Christ crowned with Thorns by his son Leandro. The latter is painted on a slate panel, also used by Sebastiano del Piombo for works such as Christ bearing the Cross with its sombre and melancholy tonal range that would be imitated on panel by Luis de Morales. The characteristically Mannerist use of elongated figures, distorted, artifi cial poses and acidic colours is found in various north Italian works, including azzuchelli’s oil sketch on paper of The Betrothal of the Virgin and Cerano’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt. The dawn of classicising naturalism at the start of the 17th century is represented here by two of its leading exponents: Annibale Carracci with The Virgin and Child with Saint John, and Guido Reni with a martyrdom and glory of Saint Apollonia. 

Room VI

Room VI
The Flight into Egypt
El Greco
Oil on panel
15 x 19 cm
Ca. 1570
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

In Spain, far from Rome and from the infl uence of Tintoretto (still evident in his Flight into Egypt and Annunciation), El Greco became a new painter. He was also a quixotic sculptor, fascinated by the striking naturalism of Spanish polychrome wood sculpture, as his Epithemeus and Pandora reveal. Portraits by Anthonis Mor, El Greco, Sánchez Coello, Orrente and Velázquez, which evolve from minutely detailed, Renaissance observation to a characteristically Baroque psychological introspection, coexist with the real presence of visitors in an interaction that unites past and present. Making small-scale copies of large altarpieces by celebrated artists for domestic use was an important function of 16th-century painting. Correggio’s delicate Virgin and Child with Saint John is accompanied by two fi ne copies of his works: The Descent from the Cross and The Martyrdom of Saint Placidus, Flavia, Eutychius and Victorinus. Other reduced versions of larger pictures include The Descent from the Cross by Allori, on copper, a favoured support in the late 16th century as its smooth, shiny surface was suitable for this type of detailed, meticulous painting. Pietro da Cortona perfectly condenses Baroque grandeur in his small Nativity in which the oil pigment combines with the shiny vitreous surface to evoke a divine realm. The dark mood of the Spanish artists, here focused on Christ’s suff ering, is juxtaposed with the soft er spirit of the Italians, all consistently bold in their approach to colour and absolute masters of proportion and perspective. This section concludes with the tender, domestic mood of the Roman painter Carlo Maratti.

Room VII

Room VII
The Birth of Apollo and Diana
Peter Paul Rubens
Wash, lead white and ink on laid paper
420 x 560 mm
Ca 1625
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

17th and 18th century inventories of the Spanish royal collection record numerous works by Rubens. Among the painters who visited Spain long enough to leave their mark, Rubens was the greatest and the one whose infl uence lasted longest. His artistic background, erudition, trips to Italy, travels as a diplomat and peace negotiator, professional and personal success and discerning appreciation of all the arts (evident in the drawing by Martin van Heemskerck, which Rubens enlivened with his own strokes) make him a truly exceptional man and artist. Visiting Rome in 1600 Rubens admired the classical world, refl ected in his Birth of Apollo and Diana and The Seven Sages of Greece. He also assimilated the innovations of Italian and foreign artists, including Elsheimer with his landscapes and nocturnal scenes. Generous with his knowledge and fame, Rubens supported his pupils such as Van Dyck and encouraged the young Velázquez in his desire to go to Italy. His understanding of the nature of artistic collaboration and its potential gave rise to  works such as The Virgin and Child in a Painting surrounded by Fruit and Flowers and the series on The Senses, for which Jan Brueghel the Elder executed the landscapes, fl owers and animals. The preparatory oil sketch, in which Rubens was peerless, provided him with the optimum format for expressing his masterly command of a rapid, deft
brushstroke, exquisite colour and ability to convey dynamic movement. Examples on display here include his studies for the paintings in the Torre de la Parada, commissioned by Philip IV, who is in turn the subject of a portrait attributed to Gaspar de Crayer.

Room VIII

Room VIII
A Philosopher
Koninck, Salomon
Oil on panel
71 cm x 54 cm
1635
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Watched over by Koninck’s Philosopher with his melancholy gaze are still lifes and fl oral compositions that refl ect the concept of vanitas underlying 17th-century art: the passing of time, the vanity of beauty and worldly things and the presence of death. A small anonymous portrait of Mariana of Austria, whose appearance refl ects Velázquez’s depictions of her, reminds us that fl owers, due to their beauty and delicate scent, were one of the attributes of queens. Brueghel the Younger presents the Earth’s bounty in his allegory of Abundance, which includes all that man might hope to find during his brief existence, also subtly referred to in Van der Hamen’s exquisite fruit. The Flemish painters maintained the tradition of a dazzlingly realistic depiction of nature initiated by their predecessors and one based on a capacity for abstraction, a lack of pedantry in the rendering of detail and the use of selective intensity to bring the paint to life. The result, as we see in Van Vollenhoven’s starling in his still life, is a bird that is a bird and not its painted image, refl ecting the feats of the ancient Greek painters such as Parrhasius and Zeuxis. The solemn, tomb-like architectural setting for this group of small dead birds is no less impressive than the dark void around Zurbarán’s lamb or around Metsu’s white chicken. The French painter Linard expresses the vanity of knowledge, while Steenwijck conveys the speed with which all worldly pleasures vanish. The only option is to fl ee the scene, perhaps on Jan Brueghel the Younger’s fine white horse on which we could perhaps gallop through his Paradise.

Room IX

Room IX
Building the Tower of Babel
Pieter Brueghel the Younger
Oil on panel
43.2 x 42.9 cm
Ca. 1595
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Landscape acquired a naturalistic character in the 17th century although maintaining its function as a setting for mythological or religious episodes, as in Poussin’s Noli me tangere. There is, however, no narrative content in Jan Brueghel the Elder’s Landscape or Dughet’s Landscape with a Waterfall, marking a tendency towards landscape as an autonomous genre that culminates here with Velázquez’s Views of the Villa Medici. The “classical landscape”, a concept that arose in Italy at the start of the 17th century, recreated the classical world through an arranged, ordered and serene vision of nature that included classical buildings, to be seen here in works by Claude Lorrain and Domenichino. Northern landscape continued to pursue the older tradition of Brueghel the Elder, represented by Building the Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. It also, however, turned to new, modern themes of daily life, evident in works by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Brueghel the Younger in collaboration with Vranck, and Bout. Finally, northern artists living and working in Italy, such as Bramer, interpreted classical subjects with a particular sensitivity to everyday, realistic details. Especially remarkable within this context are Pieter Fris’s Orpheus and Eurydice in the Underworld and the unique forest of crosses of around 1630 by an anonymous French painter. Inspired by a work by the Italian artist Lelio Orsi, this unusual subject of an allegorical nature is based on a complex use of mathematics and on eff ects of light and colour that anticipate Velázquez’s investigation of the depiction of space.

Room X

Room X
The Separation of Armida and Rinaldo
David Teniers
Oil on copper panel
27 x 39 cm
1628 - 1630
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Life as it passed before the artist’s eyes has been depicted in a serial manner in a range of works from antiquity onwards, from Egyptian tomb scenes to the endless cavalcade of Phidias’s youthful riders on the Parthenon frieze and the predellas of altarpieces. In the 17th century the different facets of a single entity were represented using this fragmentary, cinematic approach: by Murillo in his moralising preparatory sketches for The Prodigal Son and by Teniers in the story of Rinaldo and Armida recounted in Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1580), a work that inspired artists, musicians and writers through its combination of magic, power and love in an exotic setting. In another example in the next room, Van Kessel brings together the four parts of the world in 68 tiny scenes of which 39 now survive. They illustrate the animal kingdom, cities and landscapes of the four known continents in the 17th century and deploy the characteristically all-encompassing viewpoint of the age in a candid expression of the European sense of domination. An interest in scientific classification began to prevail, and was also applied to psychology, reflected by Descartes, who spent part of his life in Holland, in his Treaty on the Passions of the Soul (1649). Teniers summarised these passions in his monkeys, offering a satirical “portrait” of men and women’s activities. The painter monkey, for example, devotes his energies to the production of highly prized, small cabinet paintings. In contrast, the Archduke Leopold hung large-scale masterpieces in his palace as a permanent testament to the taste and prestige created by royalty and the aristocracy.

Romm XI

Romm XI
Mariana of Neuburg, Queen of Spain, on horseback
Luca Giordano
Oil on canvas
81,2 x 61,4 cm
1693-94
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The landscapes in three paintings by the Flemish artist Wouwerman connect this gallery with the previous ones. The northern aesthetic now focused on broad horizons and the beauty of the sky. In these open landscapes with their low green hills, ladies and gentlemen set out for the hunt with their dogs and falcons in a vision of the ordered nature of Flemish society. The technique and subject matter of these scenes look forward to the 18th century. The same is true for Murillo in the fi eld of religious painting, who anticipated the tenderness, colouring and delicate brushstroke of the following century. This is evident from a comparison with the works by Goya, visible through an opening in the gallery wall and creating a visual connection with precedents in the Spanish royal collection. Giordano is an outstanding example of the late, decorative Baroque, while his small-format works convey all the grandeur of his frescoes. Two beautiful scenes on copper deploy his legendary virtuoso technique and acknowledged capacity for imitation, which encouraged him to look to northern artists such as Dürer and Lucas van Leyden and to Correggio’s colour and soft brushstroke. The equestrian portraits of Charles II and Mariana of Neuburg reflect the noble spirit of Velázquez’s works in this genre and Rubens’s ability to deploy allegory: Faith for the king and Abundance for the queen. Panini and Conca’s landscapes reflect the ongoing presence of the classical world, while in his Self-portrait Solimena presents himself as a prince of painting, a status that Dürer had already proclaimed in his self-portrait of the late 15th century. The languid mood of the Bolognese Creti’s nude anticipates Romanticism.

Room XII

Room XII
Fête galante
Jean-Antoine Watteau
Oil on canvas
47,2 x 56,9 cm
1712 - 1713
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The Spanish Habsburg Charles II and his queen, Mariana of Neuburg, fl ank the entrance to the fi rst gallery of 18th-century painting, in which visitors are received by the monarchs of the Bourbon dynasty that came to power in Spain in 1700. The Spanish and Italian artists previously summoned to work at the court were now replaced by French painters who introduced modes and formats appropriate to the new requirements of their patrons. Jean Ranc’s preparatory sketch for The Family of Philip V, which remained unfi nished and was lost in the fire at the Alcázar in 1734, deploys the genre of family portrait that culminated in Goya’s The Family of Charles IV (1800). Goya depicts the royal family in a less formal palace interior in which the monarchs, the heir to the throne and the playful younger children convey an unprecedented normality and approachability, accompanied by an attractive maid who serves tea in the manner of a fashionable “conversation piece”. Two typically intimate and subtle works by Watteau were to be found in 1746 in Philip V’s beloved palace of La Granja. One of them, Fête galante, can be read as an idealised image of the outdoor events held in the beautiful gardens of this royal residence. Similarly, the Neo-classical Mengs’s portrait of María Luisa de Parma emphasises her amiable character and smiling, youthful beauty while the historic palace-monastery of
El Escorial, modernised by the Bourbons, glints in the sunlight in Houasse’s depiction. In the fi nal, turbulent decade of the century Pillement’s Shipwreck is an evocation of Nature, seen for the first time as sublime and grandiose with human beings as its fragile playthings.

Room XVIII

Room XVIII
The Last Supper
Mariano Salvador Maella
Oil on canvas
36 x 94 cm
H. 1794
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

On the night of 24 December 1734 the old Habsburg Alcázar burned down with the loss of exceptional paintings from the royal collection. The disaster, however, led to the construction of a new palace in the fashionable style of Italian lassicism. The decoration planned for this centre of the Crown’s administration and for the rooms to be used by the monarch and his family made use of numerous paintings rescued from the fi re, which once again hung on the walls of the principal rooms. Of more interest to the artists associated with the recently founded Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando were the fresco schemes that decorated these rooms in a modern, Neo-classical aesthetic based on complex historical allegories and on the aspirations of the Spanish monarchy. The Prado has many of the oil sketches produced as preliminary designs or to be shown to the monarch for his approval. They range in style from the airy, illusionistic and colourful Rococo of Giaquinto and Tiepolo to the rigorous Neo-classicism inspired by Mengs, evident in Bayeu’s rigorously perfect scenes. This group of preliminary sketches also constitutes a new genre as their highly fi nished nature meant that they were prized as independent paintings by connoisseurs of the period, who acquired them to decorate the new, sophisticated private rooms found in large and small palaces of the period. Shown alongside these preparatory studies are others on religious subjects for frescoes in churches and cloisters or for altarpieces, including Maella’s beautiful composition for Toledo cathedral and those by Bayeu for the collegiate church at La Granja.

Room XIV

Room XIV
A Zebra
Luis Paret y Alcázar
Wash with opaque pigments on laid paper
485 x 345 mm
1774
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The uniqueness of his art has made Luis Paret one of the most highly regarded 18th-century Spanish painters. As a young man he went to Italy, funded by the Infante don Luis de Borbón. On his return Paret executed a series of watercolours for his patron that record the Infante’s exceptional natural history collection, exemplifi ed by the Zebra on display here. Paret focused on cabinet paintings such as delicate fl oral compositions and intriguing, exquisitely painted small scenes that reveal his knowledge of contemporary French painting. This is evident in his early Masked Ball or the later Play Rehearsal and Charles III dining before the Court. These are works that encourage the gaze to linger on the numerous fi gures, the skilfully narrated actions and the fi gures’ perfectly defi ned appearances and gestures, which together convey the vivacious, pleasure-seeking nature of society under the Ancien Régime. Paret’s destiny was linked to that of his patron for whom he acted as a procurer, resulting in his sudden banishment to Puerto Rico. Dating from that period is the artist’s Self-portrait in which he evokes his unfortunate situation and his love of the arts. The portrait of his wife, Micaela Fourdinier, reveals Paret’s classical training in the Greek dedication to his “dearly beloved wife”. Particularly interesting is the recently acquired small painting of a girl asleep in a typically Central American hammock. In this exhibition it is viewed in a camera obscura. The painting’s small format and artifi cial perspective suggest that it could have been part of a game, thus heightening the sense of suggested intimacy between Paret and his model.

Room XV

Room XV
Lunardi, Mrs Sage and G. Biggin in a Hot Air Balloon
John-Francis Rigaud
Oil on copper panel
36 x 31 cm
Ca. 1785
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Art in Spain in the second half of the 18th century reflected Bourbon patronage and the up-to-date training available at the new Fine Arts academies. In addition to monumental fresco painting, which Vicente López practiced into the 19th century, the Enlightenment monarchy favoured scenes of popular life and customs for the decoration of their pleasure palaces outside Madrid. Depictions of majos and majas off ered the fi rst imageof a rising social class, alongside figures engaged in different trades including independent, liberal women for the first time and the elegant, inquiring members of an emerging middle class taking walks or enjoying popular fiestas, also attended by the aristocracy in search of amusement. Giandomenico Tiepolo, who had previously depicted such scenes in Italy, returned to them in Spain with a critical eye that anticipates Goya. Bayeu and Castillo’s preliminary studies focus on the most agreeable side of everyday life through street scenes that herald 19th-century modernity. Portraits of middle-class sitters include Feliciana Bayeu and Tegeo’s expressive depiction of his wife dating from the early 19th century. Other works, such as Scene from a Play attributed to Juliá, Seated Woman by Camarón, and V. Lunardi, Mrs Sage and G. Bigg in in a Hot Air Balloon by Rigaud reflect specific aspects of late 18th-century life. The latter depicts Vincent Lunardi’s balloon flight that took place in London in 1784 before a crowd of 200,000 people. Accompanying him were his assistant George Biggin and the actress and model Letitia Anne Sage, the fi rst woman to make such a trip. The event gave rise to endless speculation about
what the participants might have got up to above the clouds.

Room XVI

Room XVI
Fight at the Cock Inn
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
Oil on canvas
41,9 x 67,3 cm
1777
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

In 1787 Villanueva presented to the King for his approval a mahogany, lemon wood, walnut and pine model for the building to house the Natural Sciences Cabinet, later the Museo del Prado. Ten years later, in 1795, Gaetano Merchi, an exile from the French Revolution, sculpted the fi nest known portrait of Goya, its simplicity and directness refl ecting the artist’s own nature. In contrast, the painter's Self-portrait has the analytical gaze and tousled hair of the proto-Romantic artist-genius. Preliminary sketches, cabinet paintings and small portraits are shown under natural light from the lantern, symbolising the Enlightenment and paying tribute to this force of nature that makes reality visible and which Goya perfectly controlled. Fight at the Cock Inn, a study for the tapestry cartoon of 1777, is the earliest work in a project for the royal residences that would occupy twenty years of his life. The memorable Pradera de San Isidro and the innovative scene of a mason of 1786-87 conclude these unique series of designs for tapestries, which Goya used to reflect on human nature. They were also the starting point for his non-commissioned works such as the series of paintings on tin plates of 1793 that includes The Travelling Players, an amusing satire on the Ancien Régime. The playful scene of the Duchess of Alba and the allegories of witches are of a similar type. Goya’s religious paintings range from exquisite devotional compositions to the preliminary study for Saint Justa and Saint Rufina. An outstanding portraitist, he conveys the effects of large-scale works pared down to their essential expression in two tiny, round portraits on copper depicting the mother and elder daughter of the Goicoechea family, his in-laws.

Room XVII

Room XVII
In the Studio
Vicente Palmaroli González
Oil on panel
29,5 x 22,5 cm
1880
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Small-format, 19th-century paintings are displayed here to evoke a crowded drawing room of this period. They range from the late Romanticism of Goya’s followers Alenza and Lucas to the exquisite sophistication of subsequent figures such as Jiménez Aranda and Pradilla. Some artists opted to depict the mysterious world of the street invented by Goya with its quintessentially Spanish drunks, witches, masks and sermons; others focused on scenes from Spanish history in which the Inquisition and flagellants appear in their darkest guise, or on romantic, grandiose subjects depicted with a detailed, elaborate style and a descriptive, protocinematographic approach. Comfortable drawing rooms and discreetly elegant ladies defi ne this pre-eminently bourgeois century, as in Madrazo’s Luisa Bassecourt, Palmaroli’s exotic demi-mondaine model and the young women in Muñoz Degrain’s bohemian studio. Women, the indisputable and charismatic heroines of the 19th century, now play a key role: Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Fortunata and Jacinta, la Regenta, Madeleine Férat, the Lady of the Camelias, Thérèse Raquin, or… the young woman behind the bar at the Folies Bergère. The future remained to be conquered, as suggested by Palmaroli’s young girl on the beach, absorbed in the view through her binoculars. The profoundly sophisticated Fortuny went beyond the world of Paris and Rome that influenced all 19th-century Spanish artists and responded in full to the exoticism of Morocco and the delicate resonances of Japanese art. If only one work by this painter could be selected it might perhaps be the sun dappled garden of his own house.

Artworks

279

Portrait of the Mona-Lisa

J. Lacoste, editor
Phototype, 139 x 90 mm. Postcard
1900 - 1911

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