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Indepth Arts News:

"The Spanish Portrait from El Greco to Picasso"
2004-10-22 until 2005-02-06
Museo del Prado
Madrid, , ES Spain

This October sees the opening at the Museo del Prado of a major exhibition: The Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso, sponsored by BBVA. The exhibition features 84 paintings, some of which have never been shown before in Spain and others that have never been lent, such as Portrait of Don Justino Neve by Murillo from the National Gallery in London or The Duchess of Alba by Goya and Portrait of a Girl by Velázquez, both from the Hispanic Society of America. The exhibition is the first one to offer a complete overview of the Spanish portrait from its origins up to the early twentieth-century avant-garde.

Over the course of three and a half months and through a selection of 84 works, the exhibition devoted to the Spanish portrait will present a survey of the development of this genre in Spanish art from the late fifteenth century to the early decades of the twentieth century. The exhibition is an unprecedented one, in that it is the first to cover 500 years of Spanish art from the viewpoint of the portrait. It features an outstanding group of works by all the leading names of in this field, including El Greco, Ribera, Murillo, Velázquez, Zurbarán, Goya, Miró and Picasso, the latter represented for the first time inside the Prado. All previous investigations of this subject, whether books or exhibitions, have focused on narrower time scales and have been less ambitious in scope. For this reason The Spanish Portrait.

From El Greco to Picasso offers the first opportunity to present the stylistic evolution of the Spanish portrait, the different social implications of the genre in Spain, the self-image formulated by the various sitters, the image they wished to convey to posterity, and the various devices and representational strategies used by artists of each period.

More than half the works in the exhibition are loans from the most important collections of Spanish portraits. Among them are a large number of masterpieces, including Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino by El Greco (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts), Alonso Verdugo de Albornoz, by Francisco Zurbarán (Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), The Infanta Margarita in a Blue Dress, and Infante Felipe Próspero, by Velázquez (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum), Portrait of Don Justino Neve, by Murillo (London, National Gallery), Self-Portrait by Luis Meléndez (Paris, Musée du Louvre), the two full-length portraits of the Duchess of Alba by Goya (Madrid, Fundación Casa de Alba and New York, The Hispanic Society of America), to be exhibited together for the first time, Self-portrait with Doctor Arrieta, by Goya (The Minneapolis Institute of Arts), The Family of the Infante don Luis, by Goya (Parma, Fundazioni Magnani-Rocca), Gertrude Stein, by Picasso (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art), Self-Portrait, by Picasso (Paris, Musée Picasso), and Self-Portrait by Miró) (Paris, Musée Picasso).

Some of the major works traveling to the Prado are being lent for the first time. Amongst these: Portrait of a Girl by Velázquez from the Hispanic Society of America; the Duchess of Alba by Goya, also from the Hispanic Society and Portrait of Don Justino Neve by Murillo from the National Gallery in London.

The collection of the Museo del Prado includes some of the most important examples of sixteenth- to nineteenth-century Spanish portraits to be found in any collection world-wide, and its own contribution to the exhibition thus includes major works such as the Knight with his Hand on his Breast by El Greco, Las Meninas, which has not been included in any temporary exhibition since the Velázquez exhibition in 1990, the Portrait of a Man known as the Pope‚s Barber, also by Velázquez, The Countess of Chinchón, and The Family of Charles IV by Goya.

The exhibition, curated by Javier Portús, will take place in the Central Gallery and Room 12 of the Museum. An accompanying catalogue (Spanish and English editions) will be published which, given the innovative nature of the exhibition, is expected to be a new reference-point for future studies of this subject. It includes contributions by Javier Portús, Pilar Silva, Miguel Falomir, Leticia Ruiz, José Álvarez, Alfonso Pérez Sánchez, Gabriele Finaldi, Manuel Mena, Nigel Glendinning, José Luis Díez and Javier Barón.

  Pablo Picasso
  París, Museo Picasso

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