The itinerary <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> has been successfully created. Now you can add in works from the Collection browser
<em>TITULOOBRA</em> added to <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> itinerary

Focusing on Murillo’s Prodigal Son series

The art of storytelling in Andalusian Baroque painting arrives at the Museo Nacional del Prado Monday, September 20, 2021

Until 23 January 2022 in Room C of the Jerónimos Building and with the collaboration of the Comunidad de Madrid, the Museo Nacional del Prado is exhibiting three important narrative series produced for private clients in Andalusia in the mid-17th century: the two on the parable of the Prodigal Son and the Story of Joseph by Murillo and Antonio del Castillo, both of which have survived complete and are now in the National Gallery of Dublin and the Museo del Prado, respectively; and the series on the Life of Saint Ambrose by Juan de Valdés Leal.

The exhibition also features other paintings which originally belonged to series of this type that were split up and dispersed over time. Through these works visitors to the exhibition will be able to appreciate both the importance of serial creations in Andalusian painting of the period and the role played in the development of the latter by private collectors and patrons.

33 works from the Museo Nacional del Prado, the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and institutions such as the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias, the Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla and the Biblioteca Nacional de España document the high levels of artistic merit achieved by the artists who cultivated this typology.

The art of storytelling in Andalusian Baroque painting arrives at the Museo Nacional del Prado

From left to right:  Javier Portús, Chief Curator of Spanish Painting (up to 1800) of the Museo Nacional del Prado; Daniel Martínez, Vicecouncellor of Culture and Tourism. Comunidad de Madrid; and Andrés Úbeda, Deputy Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Photo © Museo Nacional del Prado

Curated by Javier Portús, Chief Curator of Spanish Painting (up to 1800) at the Museo Nacional del Prado, and with the collaboration of the Comunidad de Madrid, the exhibition is devoted to a specific pictorial typology produced in the 17th century by some of the leading Andalusian Baroque painters.

During the central decades of the 17th century a type of painting was produced in Andalusia that was notably representative of both the high levels achieved by the principal painters of the region and the expectations and tastes of one of the most active sectors of their clientele. These are works structured as series, most of medium size and commissioned by private individuals for domestic interiors or private oratories. They depict a “story” taken from the Bible or the hagiographies, either in the form of an individual’s life story recounted in greater or lesser detail, or the different stages within one biographical episode. The format allowed artists to display not only their use of compositional devices but also their skills as narrators of sequential episodes.

The content of the series and the way the artists chose to depict the subjects often reflect the contemporary world of the individuals who commissioned them, their codes and aspirations, while also providing us with an insight into part of their material culture.

With the aim of learning more about these works and structured around the series of six, recently restored canvases of Murillo’s “Prodigal Son” series, generously loaned by the National Gallery of Dublin, the exhibition includes the four paintings in the collection of the Prado associated with that series by Murillo; the “Story of Joseph” series by Antonio del Castillo, which has survived complete; and most of the paintings from the series on “The Life of Saint Ambrose” by Juan de Valdés Leal. A comparison between these works by three of the leading names in Andalusian Baroque painting reveals both affinities and differences with regard to technique, style and approach to narrative.

The exhibition includes a further section of individual paintings which originally belonged to series of this type, depicting scenes of banquets and the meeting beside the well as spaces of social encounter. They reveal how works of this type contain not just an important narrative content but also formulas associated with other genres, such as landscape, genre painting and still life.

Through these paintings, which are essentially narrative in nature and require careful, slow and sequential observation, viewers are encouraged to adopt an approach to Old Master painting which differs from the one habitually employed today and is closer to the gaze that existed at the time the works were created and among those for whom they were intended.

Up