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Events in Art and Archaeology

<SPAN class=pie _extended="true">El Greco:<EM> Portrait of a Doctor (?),</EM> ca. 1582 - 1585Oil on canvas96 x 82,3 cmMuseo Nacional del Prado.</SPAN>
El Greco: Portrait of a Doctor (?), ca. 1582 - 1585
Oil on canvas
96 x 82,3 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado.
El Greco’s Library
MADRID, SPAIN  •  Museo Nacional del Prado  •  1 April - 29 June 2014

This April, the Museo del Prado, the Biblioteca Nacional de España and Fundación El Greco 2014 are presenting the exhibition El Greco’s Library. Its aim is to reconstruct the theoretical and literary roots of El Greco’s art through 39 books, four of which belonged to him, that have been identified from two inventories compiled by the artist’s son Jorge Manuel in 1614 and 1621. Notable among them is a copy of Vitruvius’s treatise on architecture (from the BNE), and another of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the most excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Both were copiously annotated by El Greco with comments that reveal his ideas on architecture and above all on painting. Also on display is a copy of Xenophon’s Works and one of Appian’s Civil Wars, both of which were represented in his library, and one of Sebastiano Serlio’s architectural treatise with annotations that have on occasions been attributed to the artist. The exhibition is completed by three manuscripts, nine prints that probably inspired compositions by El Greco, and five paintings which reveal the relationship between his pictorial output and the books in his library.

El Greco’s Library includes 39 books of which he is known to have owned copies from the entries in the two inventories, selected on the basis of the editions that he is most likely to have possessed. Also on display are three manuscripts; the original inventories of 1614 and 1621; a letter from the artist to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese; nine prints, most of them by Cornelis Cort and Dürer, which were key reference points for the painter; and five paintings, including Boy blowing on an Ember and The Annunciation, which reveal the relationships between the artist’s pictorial creations and his books. In total, the exhibition includes 56 works that introduce visitors to what El Greco read and wrote, his knowledge and thinking, with the aim of understanding the ideas on the art of painting that underpinned his creative activities.

The five sections of the exhibition reconstruct the evolution of the artist’s career and analyse the way in which he saw painting as a speculative science. The first section emphasises the importance that El Greco’s Greek heritage held for him throughout his life, while the second and third sections recall the key role that Italian culture played in his artistic transformation. The largest section focuses on books on architecture, which highlight El Greco’s interest in the universal nature of this discipline and its influence on the status of painting as a liberal art. The exhibition closes with a small section on religious imagery and includes a copy of Alonso de Villegas’s Flos sanctorum [Flowers of the saints], which includes the first reference to the painter in print.

Museo Nacional del Prado Website

Contact: Museo Nacional del Prado
Paseo del Prado
28014 Madrid
Tel: (34) 91 330 28 00

<SPAN class=pie _extended="true"><EM>The Triumph of the Church</EM> (detail), ca. 1625Oil on canvas63,5 x 105 cmMuseo Nacional del Prado.</SPAN>
The Triumph of the Church (detail), ca. 1625
Oil on canvas
63,5 x 105 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado.
Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist
MADRID, SPAIN  •  Museo Nacional del Prado  •  25 March - 29 June 2014

Curated by Alejandro Vergara, Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist is an exhibition featuring the six panels from this series in the Museum’s collection following their recent restoration. The Eucharist series was one of the most important commissions received by Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640), in which the panels on The Triumph of the Church and The Victory of Truth over Heresy are particularly notable.

Due to its placement on the Scheldt River, Antwerp was an invaluable gateway to Flanders; the southern, Catholic region of the Netherlands (present-day Belgium) that had remained loyal to the Spanish Hapsburg Crown. Through the last decades of the 16th century, the city was plagued by civil war, religious turmoil, foreign rule, and economic stagnation. Antwerp slowly began to recover when Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566-1633) and her husband Albert (1559-1621) were appointed archduchess and archduke of the Southern Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century. The archducal couple initiated, in the interests of the Spanish Crown, a Catholic renewal on a massive scale and Antwerp again became the most dynamic art center in northern Europe. Hundreds of artists, including Rubens who was appointed court painter, produced works that were prized across the continent. Additionally, the city exported a great variety of luxury goods: silk, carpets, furniture, musical instruments, glass, and cut diamonds. This vast outpouring of artistic production brought Antwerp new wealth and prestige. Baroque art had its origins in the Catholic church, which exercised religious propaganda through overt displays of artistic virtuosity. Upon his return from Italy in 1608, Peter Paul Rubens, a devout Catholic, introduced Baroque art to the Southern Netherlands in a blend of Flemish realism and Italian Grand Manner that radically altered traditional composition. Rubens had an encyclopedic knowledge of religious symbolism and classical mythology. After studying masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance and then-recently unearthed sculptures of classical antiquity, Rubens asserted that corporeal depiction should most closely resemble human anatomy. Thus, he developed his signature portrayal of painting fleshy, robust nudes. His greatest innovation, however, was the expression of vitality achieved by introducing a dynamic line through his compositional groupings, resulting in figures that appear to move and twist.

The exhibition Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist also includes four of the tapestries woven from these designs, which belong to Patrimonio Nacional. The exhibition enables visitors to appreciate the complex and painstaking process behind the restoration of this unique group of works, initiated in 2011 with the support of Fundación Iberdrola.

Museo Nacional del Prado Website

Contact: Museo Nacional del Prado
Paseo del Prado
28014 Madrid
Tel: (34) 91 330 28 00

Jacopo Pontormo: Busto de figura masculina barbada SanguinaCortesía del Istituti museali della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino© 2013 Polo Museale Fiorentino.
Jacopo Pontormo: Busto de figura masculina barbada
Cortesía del Istituti museali della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino
© 2013 Polo Museale Fiorentino.
MADRID, SPAIN  •  Fundacion Mapfre  •  12 February - 11 May 2014

Fundacion Mapfre's exhibition halls hosts an exhibition dedicated to the drawings of Jacopo Carucci (1494-1557), better known in art history as Pontormo and considered one of the greatest exponents of Mannerism. The show features a carefully chosen array of 70 drawings—the majority loaned by the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, though other prestigious European museums such as the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich and the Vienna Albertina have also contributed to this selection—which document every stage in Pontormo's career and all the different drawing media he used. The exhibition consists of 60 drawings by Pontormo as well as nine drawings by other great artists such as Dürer, Lorenzo di Credi, Poussin and Tiepolo, so that visitors can compare and contrast their different approaches to draughtsmanship and appreciate the originality of the Florentine artist's style.

The selected drawings also are accompanied by a rare gem: Pontormo's Diary, held at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, which has never been shown outside Italy until now. This journal contains writings and small sketches by the artist, created during the last two years of his life, about his obsessions, his routines and his desire to draw in seclusion, and as such it is a unique testament to the legend of Pontormo as an artiste maudit.

This show of Pontormo's work is organised to coincide with the 520th anniversary of the artist's birth.

Fundacion Mapfre Website

Contact: Fundacion Mapfre
Sala Azca, avenida General Peron, 40
Madrid, Spain
Tel: (34) 91 581 61 00

José de Ribera: <EM>Tityus</EM>Oil on canvas227 x 301 cm, 1632Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
José de Ribera: Tityus
Oil on canvas
227 x 301 cm, 1632
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
The “Furias”: From Titian to Ribera
MADRID, SPAIN  •  Museo Nacional del Prado  •  21 January - 4 May 2014
The “Furias”. From Titian to Ribera offers an in-depth analysis of the Renaissance and Baroque’s interpretation of antiquity and looks at the circulation and exchange of artists, works and aesthetic ideas across Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, it seeks to encourage a reflection on why certain forms acquire meanings that are passed down from one generation to the next. Despite their classical origins, the “Furias” first appeared as a group in art in 1548 when Mary of Hungary commissioned Titian to paint four canvases for her palace at Binche (on the outskirts of Brussels) depicting Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus and Ixion, figures whom she associated with the German princes who had rebelled against her brother, the Emperor Charles V, and whom he had defeated the year before at Mühlberg.

In Spain, the name the “Furias” was applied to four figures who dwelled in the Graeco-Roman Hades as a punishment for defying the gods: Tityus, whose liver was constantly pecked at by a vulture for attempting to rape one of Zeus’s lovers; Tantalus, condemned to vainly try to obtain food and drink for serving up his son at a banquet of the gods; Sisyphus, who had to endlessly roll an enormous rock for revealing Zeus’s infidelities; and Ixion, obliged to turn forever on a wheel for attempting to seduce Hera. Strictly speaking, the Furies were female figures who personified punishment and vengeance and were responsible for ensuring that those in Hades underwent their punishments. In Spain, however, and from the 16th century onwards the name was used for Titian’s canvases of Tityus, Ixion, Tantalus and Sisyphus, and the term thus became used for the subject in general.

Divided into five sections, the exhibition includes 2 drawings, 8 prints, 1 medal and 16 paintings and centres on a copy of the Laocoön from the Museo de Escultura in Valladolid.

Museo Nacional del Prado Website

Contact: Museo Nacional del Prado
Paseo del Prado
28014 Madrid
Tel: (34) 91 330 28 00

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