The first exhibition devoted to the art collection of the Bilbao businessman Félix Fernández-Valdés (1895- 1976), 4 of whose paintings entered the Prado’s collection after his death and others are now distributed around other public and private collections in Spain. The exhibition shows 79 works out of a total of over 400, ranging from the medieval period to the 20th century and include paintings by El Greco, Luis de Morales, Anton van Dyck, José de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbarán, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Juan de Valdés Leal, Carreño, Francisco de Goya, Eduardo Rosales, Mariano Fortuny, Darío de Regoyos, Joaquín Sorolla, Ignacio Zuloaga, Julio Romero de Torres, Daniel Vázquez Díaz, José Gutiérrez Solana. The exhibition reconstructs one of the most important private collections of the second half of the 20th century, and one which was not only rich in ‘Golden Age’ Spanish paintings, but also medieval Spanish art, with a significant triptych by Bernardo Serra, a panel by Fernando Gallego and the triptych from Quejana (in Álava), and works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
An exhibition sponsored by the World Monuments Fund which investigates the origin, development and techniques used by the Catalan architect Gaudí to create his signature trencadís, a form of mosaic with which many of his architectural forms were covered. The display shows 53 works, 33 of which are original (four from the Valencian museum) and 20 are reproductions made for didactic purpose, by the conservator Montse Agüero. The exhibition divides into two parts, the first explored the links between the trencadís and ancient mosaic techniques whether as practised by Romans or Venetians, in stone or ceramics. The second section analyses the development of the technique within Gaudí’s work from the Torre Güell, the first building in which he used trencadís, and has a special display about the use of the technique in Valencia itself, especially on its railway station Estación del Norte and on the facades of the houses in the suburb of Cabanyal. A five-minute video in which one of the craftsmen working on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona explains in Catalan (with Castilian subtitles) how the workshop creates the trencadis for the cathedral spires, is found at https://youtu.be/hSbDvnV9A98
In general terms the conference design will be maintained as it was, but specific dates and any other changes will be circulated shortly in a revised CFP. In the meantime, the Call for Papers remains open.
The Gregorian Reform led to a reframing of the role of bishops and diocesan institutions that cemented their power and ultimately permitted the construction of the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe. To mark the 800th anniversary of the Cathedral of Burgos, we propose to explore the dynamics, strategies, institutions and personnel behind the construction of the medieval diocese leading to the building of the temples we admire today. Our focus will be on the period 1150-1250, culminating as it does in the construction of the Cathedral of Burgos, but we welcome papers on other parts of Europe and set in other medieval periods that explore the following themes related to the emergence of the mature medieval diocese:
Territorial consolidation: diocesan borders, inter-diocesan hierarchies and conflicts.
Structural consolidation: network of parishes, fiscality, ecclesiastical offices and benefices
Institutional consolidation: cathedral chapters, use of archdeaconries, archpriesthoods and secular abbeys.
Intra-diocesan conflict: monasteries, collegial churches etc.
The agents: bishops, chapter, clergy (bishop-chapter conflict, patronage and client networks, diocesan reforms, education, cultural production)
Submissions: proposals no longer than 300 words for either individual papers or panels should be submitted by August 1st to firstname.lastname@example.org
Languages: Spanish, English Registration Fee: 50 euros
Deadline for submissions, August 1st
Confirmation of acceptance, September 15th
Registration opens, October 1st
Registration ends, November 30th
Venue: Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad de Burgos
Convenors: Susana Guijarro (Univ. Cantabria), David Peterson (Univ. Burgos)
Organised by: Área de Historia Medieval (Univ. de Burgos) & Grupo de I+D de la Universidad Cantabria Cultura, Sociedad y Poder en la Castilla Medieval y Moderna.
On June 5th, fisherman Fernando Brey tripped over a moss covered stone in the Sar river in Galicia when he was struck by its unusual shape. Indeed, this was not an ordinary riverbed rock. He had literally stumbled upon a sculpture of the Virgin and Child, whose faces are now missing, with two worn angels behind the Virgin’s shoulders, who appear to hold up her mantle. Brey quickly shared his discovery with Apatrigal, a local heritage association, and the Galician Ministry of Culture, who believe the work dates to the 14th century.
According to Apatrigal’s statement, the 150kg granite sculpture is carved on all sides other than the back, including the underside of its base, leading them to believe it was meant to be suspended on a wall. They also hypothesize that the work may have originally been located in the now-lost 12th-century Convent of Santa María de Conxo, which was very close to the discovery site in the Sar river. The sculpture has now been moved to the Museo das Peregrinacións in Santiago de Compostela, where it will be cleaned and analysed to determine its probable origin and dating. ‘Studies should tell us whether this is a very valuable gothic statue’, regional minister of culture Román Rodríguez said, as reported in The Guardian, ‘but beyond its cultural and historic value, we’ll also need to try to put together the story of this statue: What happened, and how could it remain undiscovered so close to the city for so many centuries? It must be quite a story’.
News outlets across the globe have shared the story of another failed restoration in Spain. The work was a copy of Murillo’s The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial, and the original remains unscathed at the Prado. It is important to note that the viral image above is slightly misleading, as it compares the two ‘restored’ versions (right) to Murillo’s original painting (left), rather than to the copy before the restoration effort.
The copied painting belongs to a private art collector in Valencia, who had hired a furniture restorer to clean the work. The collector has now asked another specialist to attempt to fix the botched restoration.
The Association of Conservators and Restorers in Spain (ACRE) has released a statement, stating that they ‘regret once again the loss of a cultural asset and, under these circumstances, we request not to take this instance as a social media source of fun, as happened already formerly. Moreover, we all must be alarmed to think that our heritage is disappearing because of these disastrous actions’. They also emphasize that ‘no professional technician with an official academic training would perform such an attempt against cultural heritage’. They warn against the lack of regulations for art conservation in Spain, which ‘allows unskilled people intervening on [art], facing, at best, mere administrative penalties’.
The Spanish government’s Ministry of Culture and Sport has recently published a document detailing how museums and galleries may be able to manage visitors and collections once lockdown has been fully lifted in Spain. Xanthe Brooke has written a summary of their guidance:
‘In addition to implementing hygiene and physical distancing rules the Dept. considers that in the short term at least there will be no room for block-buster exhibitions attracting mass tourism, nor social and educational activities attracting groups of visitors, and that cultural activities should resume with the limitation of capacity to one third. Museum libraries, archives and research rooms will not be available to the public until the de-escalation phases have been completed and, in any case, assistance by telematic means will prevail.
Instead museums and galleries should continue to make their collections accessible by placing their collections online by digitisation, virtual reality, and other technological means. The Dept. goes on to state that though lower visitor numbers might increase the quality of the visit, it might also lead to a more ‘elitist museum’, and so museums must ensure that future visitors are diverse, and seek out methods in which participation can involve different sectors of society.
The Reina Sofía Museum of Contemporary Art has already announced that when it re-opens, sometime in early to mid-June, as well as abiding by hygiene and temperature advice, it will: aim to reduce its visitor numbers to 30% of its previous footfall; introduce a 1-way system around its rooms; and withdraw paper brochures, maps, plans and guides to the museum to prevent the transfer of the virus, and instead introduce an app for visitors’ mobile phones.’