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For the first time in Australia, the Museo del Prado is presenting three centuries of Spanish history through the works of its great masters Saturday, July 21, 2012

The present exhibition, for which the academic director is Javier Portús, Chief Curator of Spanish Painting up to 1700 at the Museo del Prado, will offer the Australian public the first opportunity to see a survey of Spanish art and history from the 16th to the early 20th centuries through seventy-nine paintings and twenty-two works on paper from the Prado’s collections. This is the first major exhibition of Spanish art ever to be held in Australia.

For the first time in Australia, the Museo del Prado is presenting three centuries of Spanish history through the works of its great masters

Presentation of the exhibition Portrait od Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado

The exhibition, which is the latest in the “International Prado” series, will allow the Museum to act as special ambassador to Spain in Australia. On this occasion the project has been promoted by the AEA, which has been responsible for presenting major exhibitions in Australia from other European institutions including the Tate Gallery , London, the Musée du Louvre, Musée Picasso and Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in addition to leading US museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), both in New York.

Following its presentation in Brisbane, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts de Houston, Houston, to be shown beginning December 16, 2012.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado will present visitors with a reflection on the development of painting in Spain over the course of more than three centuries and on the internal and external factors that influenced it.

In order to explain this artistic evolution the exhibition will take the form of a chronological display of one hundred and one works. It opens with the portrait of Doña Juana of Austria (1560) by Anthonis Mor and continues with key paintings within the oeuvres of Titian and Ribera, such as Christ carrying the Cross (ca.1565) and Democritus (1630), respectively. There will also be a comprehensive selection of twenty-two prints from Goya’s series Los Caprichos, Los Desastres de la Guerra and Los Disparates, while the exhibition concludes with one of Sorolla’s most characteristic paintings, María Figueroa as a young Girl, dressed as a Menina (1901) and with Eduardo Rosales’s celebrated Female Nude (getting out of the Bath) of the same date. Finally, the exhibition includes an example of Spanish landscape painting, The Wall at El Pardo (1911) by Aureliano de Beruete, a follower of Carlos de Haes.

Structured into three principal sections, the exhibition sets out to present the history of Spanish painting, emphasising the political, social and artistic factors involved. The first section corresponds in political terms with the period of the Ancien Régime and artistically with the so-called Spanish Golden Age. The second section encompasses the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century, a “critical” period characterised by significant changes of attitudes, political organisation and forms of social relations. The final section covers the last fifty years of the nineteenth century, a period that saw the birth of modern Spain.

The most important artists have been selected from each period: El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo, Paret, Van der Hamen, Meléndez, Goya, Vicente López, Federico de Madrazo, Rosales, Fortuny and Sorolla, in addition to foreign artists working in Spain or ones who directly influenced its painting such as Titian, Anthonis Mor and Rubens. This display also offers a representative selection of subject and genres in order to demonstrate not only the evolution of Spanish painting but also the way that interest in different themes and subjects changed over time while new subjects and iconographies appeared.