DALLAS, TX.- The Meadows Museum
, SMU, announced today that it has purchased works by two Catalan modernists: painters Josep de Togores i Llach (18931970) and Santiago Rusiñol i Prats (18611931). These works are important additions to the Museums collection and to increasing public and scholarly access to Catalan works from this early modern period, roughly the 1880s into the 1920s. Despite the fact that this was a period of significant artistic production and stylistic innovation, works by Catalan artists of this era are not well-represented in American museum holdings.
This period is often considered a Golden Age of Catalan art, with many outstanding works produced at a time that coincides with the construction of Gaudís great buildings in Barcelona, said Mark Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum. And yet, because it was also a period of prosperity in the region, many of the works by artists like Togores and Rusiñol were acquired by and remained in the collections of local families and institutions. For the Meadows Museum, these terrific objects help round out our Catalan collectionwhich begins with the medieval painting by Pere Valland expands our understanding of this moment in Spanish art history. I am grateful to the many donors whose contributions supported our purchases.
The first painting, Togores Portrait of the Mestre Family (1927), is a masterful example of modern Spanish portraiture depicting wealthy Catalan industrialist Josep Mestre Mitjans; his wife, Berta Lantz Beinquet; and their three children, José, Jorge, and Blanca. Togores was a popular society painter within 20th-century Spain, and his avant-garde works from the 1920s are highly prized. The figures are portrayed in a hard-edged, linear style associated with New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), a German movement of the mid-1920s that advocated for close observation of reality. This is evident in the artists studious attention to the appearance of texture and material, for example in the shiny lapels of Mestres tuxedo and the folds of Bertas blue dress. Even the illusion of depth is suppressed, with the family appearing compressed within the edges of the large-scale (53½ x 63¼ in.) painting. Togores exhibited the painting in Barcelona in 1927 and in Madrid in 1928, during which time it garnered favorable critical notice. It has remained in the collection of the Mestre family ever since and has been exhibited only once since 1928: at the Togores retrospective organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museu dArt Modern del Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya in 1997 and 1998.
The second painting, Rusiñols Cluster of Cypresses, Arbor IV (1908), is a lush, impressionistic landscape, one of a series of ten the artist painted of a glorieta, or circular garden feature, located within the historic gardens of the royal palace of Aranjuez, just south of Madrid, and an excellent example of the artists work during his prime years in the early 20th century. Rusiñol painted numerous gardens within Spain, and much like the French Impressionist painters, most famously Monet, would return to the same locations at different times of day and during different seasons to capture the changing effects of light and colors. The orange leaves on the trees in the background and the wilted flowers lining the path to the glorieta suggest that this painting was made in autumn; Rusiñol contrasts the strong diagonals of the path and flowerbeds against the vertical lines of cypresses to create a dynamic composition, and the whole is rendered in quick, bright brushstrokes. Other paintings from the same series are in the collection of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and in Pariss Musée dOrsay.
The Museum gratefully acknowledges support from the following donors, whose gifts made possible the acquisition of Togores Portrait of the Mestre Family from descendants of the artist: Susan Heldt Albritton, Linda P. and William A. Custard, Gwen and Richard Irwin, the Mr. and Mrs. Walter M. Levy Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Cyrena Nolan, and Elizabeth Solender and Gary L. Scott, with additional support provided by The Honorable Janet Kafka and Mr. Terry Kafka, Stacey and Nicholas McCord, and friends of the Meadows Museum. The Museums purchase of Rusiñols Cluster of Cypresses, Arbor IV, which was acquired from a private collection, was made with funds from The Meadows Foundation.