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Snayers, Callot and Battle Paintings

Madrid 6/26/2008 - 9/28/2008

Coinciding with the presentation of Lepanto by Cy Twombly, the Museo del Prado is exhibiting at Room D a series of images of military conflict that locate Twombly’s work within the context of a pictorial traditional focused on the subject of war and on which Twombly has drawn for his own work. This display can be seen in Room D of the Jerónimos Building (next to the Lepanto room).

As part of this complementary display the Museum is exhibiting the etching The Siege of Breda by Jacques Callot for the first time since its acquisition in 2004, as well as two paintings by Snayers that have recently been cleaned and restored.

The Prado’s collections are rich in paintings on the theme of war, revealing the different reactions that this subject has aroused in artists. The selection currently on display presents the model developed by the artist from Lorraine, Jacques Callot (1592-1653) and the way this model was followed by other artists such as Pieter Snayers (1592-1667). These depictions of battles include figures and anecdotal episodes in the foreground planes that bring the viewer closer to the daily life of the combatants. They then broaden out perspectivally to offer panoramic views with details of the sieges and conquered towns. Such images thus fulfilled a propagandist role on behalf of the military commanders involved, who were almost invariably members of the aristocracy.

Callot’s large print of The Siege of Breda, consisting of six joined sheets, is a view of the siege of Breda that took place from September 1624 to June 1625. It offers a minutely detailed description of the armies and fortified towns with their bastions, combined with a portrait in the foreground of the engineer Cantagallina who directed the siege, and a self-portrait of Callot.

The two battles in Snayers’ paintings took place during the war between the kingdoms of Spain and France between 1635 and 1659. Entitled The Siege of Gravelines and Assault on Aire-sur-la-Lys, they were probably commissioned from the artist by the Archduke Leopold William, cousin of Philip IV of Spain and Governor General of the Spanish Netherlands.

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Room D. Jerónimos Building

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