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The Imitation of the Real

The Imitation of the Real


The Imitation of the Real

Madrid 10/24/2006 - 1/7/2007

The Museo del Prado is presenting  “The Imitation of the Real. Spanish Still Lifes from the Naseiro Collection acquired by the Prado” (24 October 2006 - 7 January 2007), an exhibition of the forty Spanish still lifes from the collection of Rosendo Naseiro which was acquired this July on the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and through the acceptance of the paintings by the Ministry of Finance in lieu of tax from BBVA bank.

The acquisition of the Naseiro Collection, valued at 26 million Euros, is one of the most important additions to the Prado’s collection in its entire history. The forty selected works constitute a unique group that offers an overview of almost the entire history of the still life in Spain. The collection includes masterpieces within this genre, such as Juan van der Hamen’s signed Still Life with Artichokes and Vases of Flowers (1627).

The group also contains other outstanding works by Juan Fernández “El Labrador”, Juan de Espinosa, Tomás Hiepes, Pedro Camprobín, Juan de Arellano and Luis Meléndez, as well as notably fine examples by a further nine artists not previously represented in the Museum’s collections.

The evolution of the genre of the still life (the bodegón or naturaleza muerta) in Spanish painting from the 16th to the 20th centuries is one of the most unique chapters within modern European art. With the acquisition of the Naseiro Collection, the Museo del Prado will become a key reference point in this material as its collections will include almost all the leading artists who have worked in this genre in Spain, from its earliest representatives such as Sánchez Cotán to Goya.


Room 16b

Opening time

Tuesdays to Sundays and public holidays: 9am to 8pm(entry to the exhibition permitted until 7.30pm).The Museum remains closed on Mondays.

Sponsored by:



Still Life with Grapes and Pomegranates
José Ferrer
Oil on canvas
39 x 51 cm

The selection of the forty works from the Naseiro Collection has been made bearing in mind the quality of the paintings, whether they are representative of the oeuvre of the artists in question, and in order to fill gaps in the Prado’s collection of still lifes. In fact, ten of the artists were not previously represented by still lifes in the Museum’s holdings. This is the case with Pedro de Camprobín, Ignacio Arias, Pedro de Medina, Miguel March, Gabriel Felipe de Ochoa, José Ferrer, Juan Bautista Romero, Santiago Alabert, Miguel Parra and José Romá. Some of these artists are leading names in the history of the still life in Spain.

Many of the paintings are highly important works within the output of their respective painters and some can be considered masterpieces of the Spanish still life. Particularly noteworthy is Still Life with Artichokes, Flowers and glass Vessels, painted in 1627 by Juan van der Hamen and a work that represents a perfect point of equilibrium between the compositional sobriety of his earliest compositions and his later, more complex ones. Another ambitious work is Octagonal Still Life with Bunches of Grapes by Juan de Espinosa, which is unusual not just for the octagonal format but also for the masterly way in which the artist combines his remarkable skill for precise, lifelike description of forms and textures with a great ability to organise the composition, resulting in a monumental and harmonious work. Juan de Arellano, with one of his finest works from the last years of his career, and Luis Meléndez with his Still Life with woodland Fruit are two more of the great Spanish still life painters represented through works of outstanding quality.

The collection also features notable groups of works by the same hand. This is the case with four paintings of bunches of grapes by Juan Fernández “El Labrador”, a near-legendary name in the early history of the still life in Spain but barely represented until now in the Museum. The most important Valencian still life painter, Tomás Hiepes, is present in a rich and varied group of seven paintings which, when added to the works by the artist already in the Museum, will provide a magnificent overview of his varied subject matter. Previously absent from the Prado’s collection, Pedro de Camprobín is now present in the form of four compositions, one of which, Basket with Peaches and Plums, can be considered among his most delicate and best-preserved paintings.

To celebrate this new acquisition the Museum has organised the exhibition The Imitation of the Real. Its title is taken from a play by Lope de Vega whose main character is an actor, San Ginés, and which offers a subtle reflection on real life and its representation and in particular how they interact to create a second reality. These are issues highly comparable to those involved in the still life, one of the pictorial genres that has encouraged most reflection on the concept of pictorial imitation.

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