Two important Spanish paintings will be on view at Sotheby’s in the days preceding the Old Masters Evening Sale on 3 July.
The sale will feature a portrait of Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj (1591–1657) likely painted by Velázquez during his second roman period. Donna Olimpia was an enormously influential figure at the court of pope Innocent X, sometimes referred to in sources as the ‘Papessa’ (lady pope). In the collection of Cardinal Pompeo Aldrovandi by 1724, the painting was later misattributed to the Dutch school and remained unseen for several years. Unusually for a work of this date, the painting’s commission is recorded in great detail in a letter written by Francesco Gualenghi, a resident of Modena living in Rome, to Francesco I d’Este, Duke of Modena (1610–1658) on 13 July 1650: ‘On Monday Sra Donna Olimpia was occupied all day with various ladies…in fact I mean that after lunch on Monday she allowed for her portrait to be painted by a very talented Spanish painter, who is said to be chamberlain to the King of Spain.’
Ribera’s celebrated painting A Girl with a Tambourine will also be offered in the sale. The work is thought to be a personification of the sense of hearing, and to have formed part of a lost series dedicated to the five senses. It is likely a pendant to Laughing drinker with a bottle, once in the Spanish royal collection. While Ribera painted several personifications of the sense of hearing, this is his only signed representation of the subject. The artist’s allegories of the senses are novel in their composition, as he focused on ragged peasants and vivid, everyday figures rather than idealised beauty. This painting is a particularly striking example of Ribera’s ability to capture expression with empathy and skill.
In the summer of 2019 the museum is presenting an exhibition that connects the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, the most admired and influential fashion designer of all time, with the tradition of 16th– to 20th-century Spanish painting.
References to Spanish art and culture are a recurring presence in Balenciaga’s work. The simple, minimalist lines of religious habits or the architectural volume of their cloth are to be found in many of his designs. The billowing train of a flamenco dancer’s dress echoed in the flounces on some dresses, the glinting reflections on a bullfighter’s suit, brilliantly conveyed in the sequin embroidery on a bolero jacket, and the aesthetic of Habsburg court dress echoed in black velvets embellished with jet trim in some creations are just a few examples. Balenciaga constantly studied the history of art and made use of these influences, expressed through his own powerful and unique style, throughout his career, including his most avant-garde period, reviving historic garments and reinterpreting them in a strikingly modern manner.
The exhibition, curated by Eloy Martínez de la Pera, will include a carefully-selected group of paintings loaned from private Spanish collections and public museums, including the Museo Nacional del Prado and the museums of Fine Arts of Seville, Valencia and Bilbao. They will be accompanied by a group of important creations by Balenciaga, some of them never previously exhibited, loaned from national and international museums including the Museo Balenciaga in Guetaria, the Museo del Traje in Madrid and other international institutions and private collections.
Obedience and Defiance focuses on political and feminist themes and includes previously unseen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends, which reflect Rego’s perspective as a woman immersed in urgent social issues and current affairs. The selection of works focuses on the moral challenges to humanity, particularly in the face of violence, gender discrimination and political tyranny. There are paintings and etchings related to children sold into slavery in North Africa (1996–98), abortion (1998–2000) and female genital mutilation (from 2009). Many of the images begin with the artist’s Portuguese roots and childhood experiences or respond to current affairs. This will be the first ever exhibition in Britain to present the paintings Rego made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar.
Curated by the former director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Catherine Lampert, and organised by MK Gallery (Milton Keynes), the exhibition includes over 80 works. A major new publication will accompany the exhibition with texts by curator Catherine Lampert and the American writer and novelist Kate Zambreno, published by ART/BOOKS. Touring to Edinburgh and Dublin, the exhibition will be the first ever retrospective of Rego’s work in Scotland and Ireland.
Click here for more information on the exhibition in its current location.
Bermejo is one of the greatest Spanish artists of the second half of the 15th century.
This exhibition, in the National Gallery’s Room 1, brings two of his masterpieces: the triptych of the ‘Madonna of Montserrat’ from the cathedral at Acqui Terme, Alessandria (Italy) and the ‘Piedad Desplà’ from Barcelona Cathedral, to the UK for the first time.
In addition, The National Gallery’s own painting by Bermejo, the magnificent ‘Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil‘, returns on display following its recent conservation, revealing the painting’s exquisite details and the extent of Bermejo’s artistry.
Click here for more information, andclick here for ARTES’ Study Morning in the exhibiton (27 June 2019).
The visual arts in Spain have long been haunted by the spectres of six giants: El Greco, Ribera, Velázquez, Murillo, Goya and Picasso. Still today, these canonical figures tower over all others and continue to shape the story of Spanish art, which has been traditionally told in monographic form. Although the strength of the Spanish canon has informed different disciplines (literature, aesthetics, performing arts), given the recent ‘material turn’, the prosopographical dimension of the visual arts in Spain poses a disciplinary challenge. Similarly, following the ‘global turn’, the visual arts of Iberia pose a geographical challenge, intersecting with the Mediterranean, Arabic, Latin American, British and continental European worlds. The notions of ‘Spain’ and ‘Spanish art’, therefore, are necessarily nebulous and problematic, raising a host of questions: To what extent does Spanish art exist before the establishment of Spain as a nation state? To what extent is the art of the Habsburg and Bourbon empires a Spanish art outside Spain? What is the role of Spain in the wider canon of European art? Who has exploited the visual arts of the Hispanic world, geographically, politically and intellectually? These questions ultimately point to a tension between canons and repertoires; between centres and peripheries; and between consolidating the ‘core’ and expanding the ‘remit’ of the so-called Spanish school.
This conference will explode the disciplinary, material and geographical limits of Spanish art, inaugurating the Zurbarán Centre as a critical and innovative research institution for the study of Spanish and Latin American art in the twenty-first century. Papers will challenge the canonical construction of Spanish art, which can be traced back to writings from Palomino’s Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors (1724) to Stirling Maxwell’s Annals of the Artists of Spain (1848), to more recent publications by scholars in the field. Papers will also probe the chronological, geographical and material boundaries of the ‘El Greco to Goya’ survey, interrogating the ways in which academics, curators, scholars and teachers narrate this material through various platforms, including publications, museum displays, exhibitions, lectures, gallery talks and academic courses. Speakers will address the various ‘terrains’ of Spanish art, from geographical constructions of Iberia as Europe’s frontier or edge, to exchange with all that lies beyond the Pillars of Hercules.
ARTES members are cordially invited to an informal study morning in the exhibition Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance, which will open on 12 June at the National Gallery, London (until 29 September 2019).
Programme (27 June 2019)
9:00 am: Meet at The National Gallery’s West Entrance (Staff Entrance to the left of the main portico on Trafalgar Square)
9:15 am: Welcome, curator’s introduction and discussion in the exhibition (led by Letizia Treves)
11:00–11:20 am: Complimentary tea and coffee in the Former Viewing Room, Wilkins Building
11:20–11:30 am: Brief overview of the exhibition Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light (Akemi Herráez) in the Former Viewing Room
11:30 am: Self-guided tour (complimentary tickets will be provided) of Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light (Sainsbury Wing, Level -2)
Attendees may leave their belongings at the West Entrance on
arrival. After 11.30 am these must be checked into the Gallery’s cloakrooms. Large
bags and suitcases may not be brought into the Gallery.
Please note that this study morning is by invitation only. Numbers are strictly limited and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. We kindly ask you to RSVP to colloquia.RSVP@ng-london.org.uk by Thursday 6 June 2019.