Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
CaixaForum Barcelona. Barcelona 7/16/2014 - 1/5/2015
All the genres and themes, from mythology, devotional images and portraits to nature, meditations on the human being, the exaltation of power and everyday life, as well as a huge range of media and techniques, including marble, panel, canvas, slate and copper, are brought together in Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum, an exhibition that summarises the best from the Museum in all its wealth and variety.Thanks to the extensive restoration campaign that was implemented to prepare for the exhibition Captive Beauty. From Fra Angelico to Fortuny, staged at the Prado Museum last year, spectators will also have the chance to admire the extraordinary beauty of the restored painterly surface, the inexhaustible riches found in countless details, the originality and rarity of the featured works, all concentrated into minimal but singular features.Small-format paintings are usually overshadowed by the large pictures in the collection, as are sculptures. Now, however, these, and preparatory sketches for large format works, frescoes and altarpieces, cartoons for tapestries, as well as cabinet pictures and small portraits, are shown in all their glory, attracting the viewer's gaze in ideal, close-up conditions and encouraging a focus not usually generated in the permanent collection rooms at art galleries. Corresponding to the entire time span encompassed by the Museum's collections, from the late 2nd-century (the marble sculpture of Athena Parthenos) to the threshold of the 20th century (Fortuny, Madrazo and Rosales, among others), this body of work is given unprecedented prominence in the exhibition through a surprising organisational structure that enables the viewer to examine the different pieces more closely and to become immersed in and enraptured by their extraordinary beauty, originality and rarity. Thanks to the many invitations to spectators to view these paintings through such exhibition resources as “windows” and camarae obscurae, and by hanging these works at the height of the visitor’s eyes, visitors can enjoy a “private”, detailed vision of this side of the Prado collections, exquisite and concentrated, that is not always shown or, even if it is, finds it difficult to attract their attention. This is, then, a summary of the excellence contained in the collections at the Prado in their most minimalist and unusual expression.
- Manuela Mena, Chief Curator of 18th Century Painting and Goya, Museo del Prado