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The 19th century in the Prado

Madrid 10/31/2007 - 4/20/2008

The new extension to the Museum will provide the perfect setting for this renewed focus on its exceptional holdings of 19th-century art. These works have been inaccessible to the public for many years, during which time they have been the subject of a major research and restoration project which has not only led to the present exhibition but also to the publication of an exhaustive catalogue in which they will all be published for the first time. Through the simultaneous presentation of these two projects – catalogue and exhibition – the Museum is offering the public the opportunity to rediscover Spanish art from the last quarter of the century of Goya to the birth of Picasso: two great names in world art history, separated by a century that witnessed the rise of various generations of artists.The 19th Century in the Prado will be displayed in the impressive new, temporary exhibition galleries and consists of a selection of more than 100 works that together offer a survey of 19th-century Spanish art from Goya to Sorolla. The Museum has chosen this as its inaugural exhibition for the new wing in order to compensate for the neglect that these artists have suffered for many years, given that there has been so little space to display their works.
José Luis Díez y Javier Barón


Room The Museum extension in the new exhibitios galleries

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Goya and Neo-classicism

Goya and Neo-classicism
Amalia de Llano y Dotres, Countess of Vilches
Federico de Madrazo
Óil on canvas, 126 x 89 cm. 1853
Museo Nacional del Prado

The first area of the exhibition (room 1) opens with “Goya and Neo-classicism” and includes some of the artist’s most important 19th-century portraits such as The Marchioness of Santa Cruz, together with works by fellow artists of the first quarter of the century. These include Vicente López, represented by his Portrait of the Painter Francisco de Goya, and José de Madrazo with The Death of Viriato. The survey continues with a section on “Romanticism” which brings together works by the principal exponents of this major trend in 19th-century Spain: Leonardo Alenza, Gerardo Pérez Villamil, Eugenio Lucas and Antonio María Esquivel. “Federico de Madrazo and the Academic style” is the subject of the third section, followed by a room entirely devoted to the works of the great Spanish painter Eudardo Rosales, including his celebrated canvas Isabel la Católica dictating her Will.

History Painting

History Painting
Queen Juana La Loca confined at Tordesillas with her daughter, the Infanta Catalina.
Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz
Oil on canvas. 85 x 146 cm. 1906
Museo Nacional del Prado

The second area of the exhibition (room 2) opens with “History Painting”, comprising a spectacular group that includes some of the most impressive works in the Museum’s collection of modern art. Among them are works that have entered the Spanish collective consciousness over the decades and become cultural icons, such as Juana la Loca by Francisco Pradilla, The Lovers of Teruel by Antonio Muñoz Degrain, The Surrender of Bailén by José Casado de Alisal, and The Execution of Torrijos by Antonio Gisbert. 

The end of the century

The end of the century
Elderly Nude in the Sun
Mariano Fortuny Marsal
Oil on canvas, 76 x 60 cm. 1871
Museo Nacional del Prado

Following these monumental compositions, the exhibition adopts a more intimate mood in the final room (room 3) which opens with “Realist Landscape”, led by the work of Carlos de Haes, then moves on to painting and sculpture by Fortuny and his circle. These works range from the exquisite realism and virtuoso technique of Mariano Fortuny with works such as Elderly Nude in the Sun and The Painter’s Children in the Japanese Room, to the cosmopolitan style of Raimundo de Madrazo and Martín Rico. The penultimate section focuses on the development of 19th-century painting in a section entitled “From Realism to the End of the Century” and features the work of artists such as Francisco Domingo Marqués and Ignacio Pinazo. The exhibition concludes with the modern and innovative artistic idioms that developed around the turn of the century with a section devoted to Sorolla and Beruete including such celebrated compositions as And they still say Fish is expensive! and Young Boys on the Beach.

The new location of the collection

The new location of the collection

Selected with the same criteria of quality and importance as the works that comprise the remainder of the Museum’s permanent collection on display in the Villanueva building, the more than 100 works included in the present exhibition will be integrated into the permanent display once the exhibition has closed. This operation forms part of the other expansion of the Prado resulting from the fact that new display space has become available in the original Villanueva building now that various offices and services areas have moved into the new extension.

Despite the fact that the 19th-century collection represents the largest area within the Museum’s collection and the most important collection of modern Spanish art in the world, it has been the least known until now. The comparative lack of awareness of this collection in comparison to the remainder of the Museum’s collections is largely due to the fact that it was displayed separately – in the Casón del Buen Retiro – since it entered the Museum in 1971, and before that formed part of the now defunct Museo de Arte Moderno. In 1997 the Casón was closed for remodelling and restoration and the paintings have not been on display to the public since that date.

The forthcoming integration of these works into the main body of the permanent collection aims to compensate for this relative neglect by giving them the same level of visibility as the works that have traditionally brought the Prado its international fame and prestige.

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