Tag Archives: Biblioteca Nacional de España

Marvel or monster? Madrid’s Torres Colón to become protected architectural heritage

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El País reports that the Colón Towers, two high-rise buildings in the vicinity of Madrid’s Plaza de Colón and Biblioteca Nacional, may soon become listed. Designed by Antonio Lamela (December 1, 1926–April 1, 2017), the towers’ suspended structure was innovative at the time of their construction, between 1967 and 1976. In the 1990s new fire regulations resulted in the construction of an art nouveau roof, known as ‘el enchufe’ (‘the plug’), which links the towers and provides access to an emergency staircase.  

According to the Asociación para la Protección de las Torres Colón, which is campaigning for the recognition of the towers’ architectural importance, ‘su valor arquitectónico, del que su sistema estructural es parte indiscutible y esencial, además de su proyección nacional e internacional, merece ser reconocido como parte del patrimonio arquitectónico madrileño.’

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Featured Exhibition: Drawings by Rosario Weiss

litoBiblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, until 22 April 2018

This exhibition features more than a hundred drawings by Rosario Weiss (Madrid, 1814‒1843) as well as a few prints and paintings. It sets out to show the work of an outstanding draughtswoman who is better known for her relationship with Francisco de Goya (1746‒1828) than for her artistic career.

Weiss was one of the few women to join the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts—as an academician of merit for History Painting—and she achieved her highest distinction in 1842 when she was appointed as drawing instructor to Isabella II and her sister, the Infanta Luisa Fernanda. She held this post for a very short time, as she died of cholera the following year.

Curated by Carlos Sánchez Díez, the display brings together works from the Biblioteca Nacional, the Museo Lázaro Galdiano, the Bibliothèque municipale de Bordeaux, the Museo del Prado, the Museo del Romanticismo and private collections, as well as pieces from other museums and Spanish public institutions.

This exhibition has been organised by the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Museo Lázaro Galdiano and Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica.

Click here for more information.

The exhibition catalogue, About the exhibition catalogue, authored by Carlos Sánchez Díez, can be purchased on the CEEH’s website with 10% discount on online orders until 15 February.

ARTES Coll&Cortes travel scholarship report: Ana Dias, PhD Candidate at Durham University

Fig 1 Biblioteca Nacional de EspañaThe ARTES Coll&Cortes travel scholarship granted me the opportunity to travel to Spain to examine three illustrated copies of Beatus of Liébana’s Commentarium in Apocalypsin (generally known as Beatus) on which my doctoral thesis is grounded.

My research concerns the production, illumination and impact of the Beatus manuscripts, with particular focus on the analysis of the text and image relationship. In this investigation I consider five specimens – the Beatus of Morgan, Valcavado, Urgell, Facundus and Silos – that form a particular group known as ‘family IIa’, which present remarkable textual and iconographic affinities. Moreover, these specimens also stand amongst the most lavishly illuminated copies within this tradition, thereby offering us rich material for an enquiry into questions of artistic production.

The careful and objective analysis of their differences and similarities, set against the general panorama of illustrated Apocalypses in the early medieval west, will therefore provide new evidence not only about the conceptualisation of their imagery but also concerning scribal and artistic practices in medieval Iberia.

One of the main subjects under investigation is the use of colour in the Beatus IIa miniatures. Through this analysis I aim to shed new light on how illuminators responded to the literary sources they were illustrating – Revelation and, to a more limited extent, Beatus of Liébana’s own commentary – themselves rich in colour references. Given that most of my prior research had been conducted through the observation of facsimile editions and other surrogates, it was crucial to examine the manuscripts at first hand, as even the best editions do not reproduce the material and chromatic qualities of the original works accurately enough for a study of this nature. For this reason, and having already examined the Morgan and the Silos Beatus (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.644; London, British Library, Add MS 11695, respectively), travelling to Spain to consult in situ the Beatus of Facundus (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS Vitrina 14-2), Valcavado (Valladolid, Biblioteca de la Universidad, MS 433) and Urgell (Museu Diocesá de La Seu d’Urgell, Num. Inv. 501) was essential.

I began my research trip at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, in Madrid, where I examined the Facundus copy: an exquisite specimen commissioned by Fernando I and his wife Sancha in 1047.My main aim was to check the exact nature of its palette and pigment application, the employment of metallic inks and other general aspects of production and use, such as make up, collation and marginalia. Following my examination of this manuscript, I dedicated some days to a further exploration of the bibliographical resources of the BNE, focusing on secondary material that cannot be found in libraries in the United Kingdom.

Fig 3 Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz Valladolid

My next destination was the university city of Valladolid, where the Beatus of Valcavado is held at the Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz, as part of the university’s collection of historic manuscripts. As stated in its colophon, this manuscript was produced by the scribe Obeco in 970; however, no information concerning its centre of production or the nature of its commission is offered. With the diligent assistance of the library staff, I conducted a similar examination of this manuscript. I was particularly struck by the differences in its colour scheme in relation to its counterparts as well as by some particular choices of pigments in relation to the iconography.

Fig2 Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz Valladolid

Fig 5 View from the Archivo Diocesano de Urgell to the natural parc del CadíIn order to examine the last manuscript in this group I had to travel to the Catalonian town of La Seu d’Urgell, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees. En route, I had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral treasury Museum of Girona where another Beatus copy is kept. While not being one of my primary sources (as it is part of another family within the tradition), seeing the Girona Beatus in exhibition was nevertheless very instructive as it enabled me to think more critically about colour use in early Iberian illumination more broadly.

Subsequently, I concluded my research trip in the Archivo Diocesano de Urgell where I inspected the Urgell Beatus: a copy of uncertain origin but which has been dated to the end of the tenth century on palaeographical and artistic grounds. The examination of this manuscript was surprising: despite being generally considered as a more humble specimen, its palette is composed of rich and vibrant bright colours. As in the case of Valcavado, this manuscript too shows some telling individual responses to the use of colour in relation to the iconography.Fig4 Archivo Diocesano de La Seu d'Urgell

Thus, the first-hand examination of these three Beatus was essential in order to confirm and refine the research conducted to date, and it has given me a greater insight into the material and chromatic properties of these specimens. It has also enabled me to conclude that, despite their relatively distinctive colour schemes, they also share evident patterns of colour use – an aspect which raises more questions concerning not only the artistic tradition but also about the nature of these images.

From a more technical perspective, this research trip has also allowed me to learn about the conservation policies of different libraries and archives, which is invaluable knowledge for someone working in the field of manuscript studies.

I am most grateful to ARTES and Coll&Cortes for their continuing support to my research and for giving me the opportunity and the privilege to conduct this investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

Fotografía en España,1850-1870, Madrid

2014-06-Fotografia en EspanaSpanish Photography (1850-1870) in the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, 27 May – 14 September, 2014.
Photographs by named and anonymous artists working in Spain  such as Charles Clifford, Jean Laurent, José Martínez Sánchez, Alonso Martínez y Hermano, José Spreafico and Joaquín Pedrosa.