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Spanish Drawings in the Hispanic Society of America

Spanish Drawings in the Hispanic Society of America

Spanish Drawings in the Hispanic Society of America

Madrid 12/5/2006 - 3/4/2007

The Hispanic Society of America, founded in New York in 1904 by the erudite art patron Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955) houses the finest and largest group of Spanish works of art and other items of cultural patrimony outside of Spain itself. Both the Society’s Library and Museum are reference points for the study and knowledge of Spanish art history. Until a few year sago only those actually visiting the Society’s building in New York could appreciate this enormously rich collection. Recently, however, a new loan policy has allowed its collections to be seen and admired in other museums. The present exhibition reflects this new strategy, presenting as it does a selection of drawings from the collection for the first time. The Society’s holdings of drawings are still being increased, evident in the recent acquisitions on display here, as well as the sizeable group of promised donations.

Drawings are small works of art in which artists express the most personal aspects of their creative endeavours as well as their initial ideas for projects. This alone makes them the worthy subject of temporary exhibitions. In addition, however, exhibitions of drawings are a particularly important vehicle for establishing the overall body of works by an artist. Knowledge derived from the study of an artist’s drawings as agroup allows us to analyse and define both his or her particular graphic style as well as the creative process behind the finished works. In this sense, the present exhibition has helped to significantly expand the oeuvre of some artists through the presentation of previously unpublished or reattributed drawings.

The exhibition is organised into four main chronological sections. The first features sixteenth-century drawings which reveal considerable Italian influence. It is followed by a highly important group of seventeenth-century drawings that includes works from the main centres of artistic activity in Spain – Seville and Madrid – while also focusing on individual figures such as Jusepe de Ribera. The eighteenth century is well represented, with works by the leading academic artists of the day and by others associated with the world of book illustration, an important field of creative activity at this time.

The final section is devoted to Goya, with ten drawings by him. They come principally from the artist’s various drawing albums and are exhibited for the first time. These sheets reveal the variety and richness to be found within the artist’s oeuvre.


Room 51a – 51b

Opening time

Tuesdays to Sundays and public holidays: 9am to 8pm (entry to the exhibition permitted until 7.30pm)

Sponsored by:
Comunidad de Madrid
In collaboration with:
Hispanic Society of America


Sixteenth-century drawings

Sixteenth-century drawings
Estudio de cadera y de pierna
Atribuido a Alonso Berruguete
Pluma, tinta parda
Nueva York, The Hispanic Society of America

The fact that far fewer sixteenth-century Spanish drawings survivein comparison to the large numbers from the seventeenth and eighteenthcenturies is reflected in the present exhibition, which includes asmall group but one of considerable importance. The presence of Italianpainters in Spain working on the decoration of El Escorial, theirinfluence on Spanish artists and the fact that Spanish artists went toItaly to train and work helped to disseminate Italian Mannerism in Spain.

The exhibition opens with a drawing by the Italian sculptor Pietro Torrigiano (1472-1528), of whom only around two are now known. His Drawing for the Decoration of the Stern of a Galleyis a project for a processional float built in Seville in 1526 for thewedding of the Emperor Charles V to Elizabeth of Portugal. Torrigiano’sdrawing reveals the attention paid by artists to iconography in thecreation of festive objects of this type.

Alonso Berruguete (1486-1561) is represented with a Study of a Hip and Leg, awork that reveals the artist’s interest in anatomy and also indicatesthe early influence of Mannerism on his style, assimilated during histime Italy. A drawing of Saint John the Evangelist, attributed to the Sevillian artist Luis de Vargas (ca.1505/6-1567), conforms to the style that he used in his frescodecorations, learned from his teacher in Italy Perino del Vaga, withits strongly linear accent and strong tonal contrasts.

TheItalian artists who worked on the decoration of the Monastery of ElEscorial played an extremely important role with regard to thedevelopment and status of drawing in Spain. A preparatory drawing by Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527-1596) for the Adoration from the Monastery’s high altar reveals the artist’s characteristic care in the delineation of the architectural elements.

Pablo de Céspedes(1538[?]-1608) is an example of an intellectual artist whose writingsand works provided his fellow Spaniards with information on Italian artfrom Antiquity onwards. His Adoration of the Magi, a copy ofa drawing by Taddeo Zuccaro, is a visual record of the respect thatCéspedes felt for that artist, whom he considered an artistic model tobe followed.

Finally, this section features five drawings by Blas de Prado(ca.1546/7-1599), an artist whose early years can be associated withthe group of Italian painters at El Escorial, and whose drawings arecharacterised by a precise but agile use of the pen.

Seventeenth-century drawings

Seventeenth-century drawings

Andalusian Drawings

The active and prosperous artists’ workshops in Seville encouraged a climate in which theoretical writing on art flourished, leading to the foundation of the Academy of Drawing. Here the practice of drawing was recognised as one of the key-stones of art.One of the few drawings known by the Roman artist Angelino Medoro (1567-1633, who died in Seville, can be associated with the sixteenth-century drawings on display in the previous section with their clear Italian influence. Saint Agnes retains the Italianate, Mannerist approach to the human figure.Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644), a painter and writer on art, was a prolific draughtsman. King David reveals his style, with a precise use of line and angular volumes that suggest the influence of Flemish art. Pacheco was also the author of a Book of Portraits in which he represented leading figures of Sevillian society of his day with extraordinary precision. Conceived as technical and iconographic models, Pacheco’s portraits were copied and imitated by his pupils and followers.Francisco de Herrera “el Viejo” (ca.1590-1654) created vigorous drawings using a reed pen. These images reflect his knowledge of the use of the line in engravings and etchings.Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682) can be considered the finest draughtsman of the Sevillian School in the second half of the century. His mastery of the different graphic techniques is evident in a highly finished drawing of The Immaculate Conception, and in the rapid pen sketch of Saints John the Baptist, Justa, Rufina and Félix de Catalicio.Antonio del Castillo (1616-1668) was one of the most prolific Spanish draughtsmen and the finest working in Cordoba. His drawings reveal a mastery of the medium’s various techniques, from red chalk in highly finished preparatory studies for paintings to pen in rapid but very detailed sketches of figures and compositions. The work of pupils and followers of Castillo in Cordoba, such as Antonio García Reinoso (1623-1677) and Antonio Acisclo Palomino (1655-1726), indicates the continuing influence of his style in pen drawing.Alonso Cano (1601-1667) was the most celebrated and highly esteemed draughtsman of his day. A multi-faceted artist, his drawings relate to his activities as an architect, sculptor and painter. Cano created influential types and models, while his compositions were widely disseminated through drawings as they were copied and imitated by his followers.

Drawing in Madrid

Following in the wake of the Italian artists working at El Escorial, Vicente Carducho (ca.1578-1638) initiated the revival of drawing in Madrid as the basis of the creative process. A prolific and tireless draughtsman, he produced rapid sketches of figures as well as highly finished drawings to be used as models for the subsequent elaboration of his paintings.In the second half of the century and in relation to the numerous decorative programmes underway in the Spanish capital, the work of a sizeable group of artists is reflected in their activities in the medium of drawing. Their drawings are characterised by typically High Baroque features such as the presence of figures in motion, crowded, busy compositions, and strong contrasts of light.Francisco Rizi (1614-1685) and Mateo Cerezo (1637-1666) are featured here with two drawings executed with an agitated line in pen and strong wash. These sheets are preparatory studies for religious paintings. The drawings by Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo (1619-1671) and José Antolínez (1635-1675) are more highly finished, revealing a precise use of the pen with light washes that create volumes. The drawings by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo and Matías de Torres use pen alone to establish the initial idea for a composition. José Jiménez Donoso uses drawing as a medium to establish the decorative programme for a fresco. Finally, two drawings by Claudio Coello (1642-1693) indicate the detailed complexity of his working method, which included sketches of faces and figures studies for his finished canvases. A particularly important sheet is the Allegory of Religion, a preparatory study for his monumental canvas known as The “Sagrada Forma” in El Escorial. The group of drawings displayed here by Francisco de Herrera “el Mozo” (1627-1685) merits particular mention. They demonstrate his versatility as an artist and his outstanding mastery of the combined use of pen and wash.Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652)Ribera’s drawings reveal his continual use of the medium and the importance he placed on it as an independent vehicle for artistic expression, a concept derived from Italy where he worked for most of his career. Notably varied in technique and style, Ribera’s drawings include rapid sketches in pen and wash as well as other, highly finished sheets in black and red chalk using the point both sharpened and blunt. Such images functioned as presentation drawings for his paintings, for example David beheading Goliath, one of the masterpieces in this exhibition.

Eighteenth-century drawings

Eighteenth-century drawings

The Spanish Fine Arts academies, dedicated to establishing a formal structure for art teaching, placed high importance on drawing within their study programmes. Pupils began by copying models in the academies themselves, while the more talented were awarded grants to travel to Rome where they filled their notebooks with copies of works of classical and modern art. Drawing thus became a discipline through which artists learned to capture reality with lively facility and to give visual form to their own compositions. As in the rest of Europe, eighteenth-century Spanish artists acquired notable skills as draughtsman, generally mastering the various graphic techniques to a high level, albeit with greater or lesser powers of expressivity. Drawing thus became an essential part of the creative process and an autonomous means of expression.

The exhibition includes three sheets that demonstrate the use of drawing within the process of creating a work of art. The first is a study of a female figure by Francisco Bayeu (1734-1795) for a tapestry cartoon. Studies of this type were simultaneously fluid and detailed, defining both the details of the human body as well as the drapery and demonstrating accuracy in the observation of the forms. Mariano Salvador Maella (1739-1819) is represented by a complex compositional study for a fresco in the Royal Palace in Madrid of Hercules between Vice and Virtue. Finally we see a presentation drawing by José del Castillo (1737-1793) of Saint Joseph and the Christ Child. The fully defined composition is executed solely in red chalk, one of the most favoured and characteristic academic techniques. The last quarter of the eighteenth century was a golden age for publishing in Spain, in which book illustration played an important role. The best draughtsman devised images on which the engravers of these illustrations based their prints, among them Antonio Carnicero (1748-1814), José Camarón (1731-1803) and Rafael Ximeno y Planes. Carnicero’s designs for the illustrations of the two editions of Don Quixote published by the Academy in 1780 and 1782 reveal his capacity to give concrete form to literary images. Camarón reveals his distinctive and elegant style in a scene from The Temptations of Saint Anthony, using short, delicate pen strokes. Finally, the exhibition includes a group of drawings by Ximeno on the subject of Dido and Aeneas in the Port of Carthage which allow us to appreciate the modifications made by the artist as he created the definitive image.

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)

Goya’s drawings for albums merit a special place within his oeuvre as a whole. In them the artist expressed his unique vision of the world with total freedom, in the manner of a visual diary. Intended to be seen in a domestic rather than public setting, these drawings are Goya’s most private and intimate productions, while their content is direct, critical and scathing to an unparalleled degree within his art.

The albums were broken up into various groups of drawings by Javier Goya then sold on his death in 1854 by his son Mariano, at which point the groups started to be separated. A sizeable group reached the Museo del Prado but the others were divided between private collections and museums around the world. The nine sheets belonging to the Hispanic Society were acquired from Raimundo de Madrazo by Huntington during a stay in Paris in 1913. Although the Society does not possess drawings from all the albums, the group is still representative of the various periods of Goya’s artistic activities.

Two of the drawings, which have images on both sides, come from the Madrid Album or Album B (1796 and 1797) which Goya started during his period of convalescence in Cadiz and completed on his return to the capital. While the first drawings are closely related to the female sensuality expressed in the Sanlúcar Album, we soon find images of clearly satirical tone, with inscriptions by the artist at the bottom of the image. Album C was created at some point during the years of the Spanish War of Independence (1808-1814) and the subsequent years of repression under Ferdinand VII. The subject-matter of this album covers numerous aspects of this period, including scenes of daily life, nightmares, the Inquisition, and the forced secularisation of monks and nuns. Album D (1819-1823) is one of the finest examples of Goya’s drawing style due to the elegance with which the figures are arranged and his remarkable command of wash. Album F was produced between 1812 and 1820 and features new themes related to violence and its consequences.  The last album is known as Album H and was created in Bordeaux in 1824-28. Here the elderly Goya introduced a technical innovation in his use of the lithographic crayon. It is likely that the drawings in this album were preparatory studies for a series of prints that were never in fact produced. The subject-matter is varied but generally comprises images of people on the street engaged in a wide range of activities but almost always in abnormal situations in which a sense of irrationality frequently prevails. Lastly, aside from the albums, the exhibition also includes Goya’s portrait of Navarrete “El Mudo” which relates to a project to illustrate the Diccionario Histórico de los más ilustres profesores de las Bellas Artes in España [Historical Dictionary of the most illustrious teachers of art in Spain].

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