Museo del Prado Opens New Galleries Devoted to its 19th-Century Collections

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Museo del Prado Opens New Galleries Devoted to its 19th-Century Collections
La muerte de Viriato, José de Madrazo. Óleo sobre lienzo, 307 x 462 cm. h. 1807.

MADRID.- The Museo del Prado has presented a new and fundamental step in its plan to reorganize its collections with the incorporation into the Permanent Collection of 176 works from its 19th-century collection: 152 paintings, 2 watercolors, 21 sculptures and an architectural model. This completes its historical overview and means that the Museum’s display is now more comprehensive than ever before.

Following the first chance to see some of these works in the inaugural exhibition "The 19th Century in the Prado," which accompanied the opening of the new expansion and was seen by more than a million people, works by the great 19th-century Spanish masters are now permanently incorporated into the Museum’s chronological display along with those of the great artists of the past. In particular, this sizeable representation of 19th-century works completes the narration of the history of Spanish art offered by the Museum. The narrative opens with 12th-century Romanesque painting from San Baudelio de Berlanga and now continues via the work of Sorolla up to the early 20th century, where it runs parallel with the work of the earliest avant-garde movements.

This collection of modern art, which has been part of the Prado since its opening in 1819, has been expanded over the years through significant additions, some of them very recent and now seen for the first time. They include 'The French Cuirassier' by José de Madrazo, acquired this summer, 'Penitents in the Lower Church at Assisi' by José Jiménez Aranda, acquired in 2001, 'Large Landscape' (Aragon) by Francisco Domingo Marqués, and 'María Figueroa' as a young Girl dressed as a Menina by Joaquín Sorolla, the latter two acquired in 2000.

The works in question are hung in 12 galleries, arranged chronologically but also bearing in mind the different trends and genres that arose over the course of the 19th century. This area concludes with a room that offers a completely new concept within the Museum’s display strategy, the Presentation of the Collections room. It takes the form of a study room that will house changing, temporary displays of groups of works that have not previously been accessible. The first display is a large group of landscapes by Aureliano de Beruete that was donated to the Prado by the artist’s family.

The new display starts in the central gallery on the ground floor, which is devoted to artists of the first third of the 19th century who were closely associated with court art and with the opening of the Museo del Prado in 1819. This new gallery, entitled Goya. Neoclassicism and Academic Classicism, opens with a large sculpture of 'Isabel de Braganza' the Spanish queen and co-founder of the Museum. She now presides over this large space, as she previously did over the Museum’s entrance. In addition, this gallery has returned to its original purpose of displaying sculpture, and now features a further 13 works. Also important here are the portraits of the Queen and her husband Ferdinand VII due to their links with the founding of the Museum. Their portraits are displayed alongside late, Neoclassical works by Goya such as the portraits of the 'Marchioness of Villafranca' and the 'Marchioness of Santa Cruz,' and others by contemporaries of the artist such as Vicente López, represented by his famous 'Portrait of the Painter Francisco de Goya.'

The display continues with a room devoted to Romanticism, which brings together works by the leading representatives of this trend: Leonardo Alenza, Eugenio Lucas and Antonio María Esquivel. They are followed by works by Federico de Madrazo, which lead into a second gallery devoted to the great Spanish painter Eduardo Rosales, of which the principal canvas is his famous historical scene of Isabel the Catholic dictating her Will.

A room devoted to History Painting includes Agustín Querol’s large sculpture entitled Sagunto. This room is followed by one on Fortuny and Rico, which leads into another devoted to Raimundo de Madrazo. More intimate in tone is the next room, which focuses on Realist Landscape, in which the pre-eminent figure is Carlos de Haes. Following a section on Naturalism, featuring the work of Pinazo and Muñoz Degrain, the display turns to the second generation of history painters and includes some of the most impressive works in the Prado’s modern collection, including 'The Execution of Torrijos' by Antonio Gisbert.

The new display ends with Joaquín Sorolla and includes some of his most celebrated canvases, such as 'And They Still Say Fish is Expensive!' and 'Boys on the Beach.' This room leads onto the Presentation of the Collections room, in which the first, temporary display is devoted to Aureliano de Beruete.

While few in number, the presence of European artists of other nationalities is essential for a comparison with the development of 19th-century art in Spain. Among the most important examples are the sculptures of 'Venus,' and 'Mars' by Antonio Canova, and 'Hermes' by Bertel Thorwaldsen, in addition to characteristic paintings by David Roberts, Alma-Tadema and Meissonier, among others.

"The Collection: The Second Expansion" is one of the priorities within the Museum’s 2009-2012 Action Plan. The project envisages an increase of around 50% in the number of works on display over the course of the four years in question. The opening of these new rooms devoted to 19th-century art represents an increase of around 20% on the number of works displayed up to now.


Room 75 (South Gallery, Floor 0)

The first room in the new display of the Museum’s 19th-century collection is devoted to artists working in the first third of the century, many of them closely associated with the founding of the Prado in 1819. This gallery covers the transition between the works of Goya and those of his contemporaries such as Vicente López, all of whom worked for Ferdinand VII, the monarch who co-founded the Museum with his spouse. Within this gallery, devoted to Neoclassicism and the Origins of the Museum, the portraits of Ferdinand and his wife Isabel de Braganza are particularly important, as is the large sculpture of the Queen that presides over this imposing space, as it did in the past. Also displayed here are a further 13 sculptures by leading Neoclassical artists working for the Spanish monarchy. They offer the visitor an idea of the historical context in which the Museum was founded. In addition to Goya’s Neoclassical portraits such as 'The Marchioness of Santa Cruz,' other notable works include the recently restored, wooden architectural model of the Villanueva Building, and the portrait of 'The French Cuirassier' by José de Madrazo, acquired by the Museum this summer and now on display for the first time.

Room 63B

Following the large south gallery on the ground floor of the Museum, the display continues with a room devoted to Isabelline painting, which falls within the context of mid-19th-century Romanticism. This space, which is hung with fifteen canvases, is dominated by the sculpture of Isabel II, Veiled, an outstanding example of Camillo Torreggiani’s technical brilliance. The arrival of Romanticism in Spain brought with it the development of genres that best expressed the ideals of middle-class taste of the period. One of the subjects that most appealed to the taste of the day was landscape, of which the leading exponent was Genaro Pérez Villaamil (1807-1854), represented here by 'Herd of Bulls by a River below a Castle,' a panoramic view in which the artists offers a sentimental vision of nature, with ruined buildings and picturesque villages transformed through the power of the imagination.

The Romantic sensibility also focused on picturesque scenes of daily life. Leonardo Alenza (1807-1845), followed by Eugenio Lucas (1817-1870) offered acerbic reflections on daily life in Madrid in the style of Goya. However, Seville was the leading centre for the production of such scenes. There, Antonio María Esquivel (1806-1857) typified the contemporary admiration for Murillo, and his portraits offered new models derived from the English tradition. Valeriano Domínguez Bécquer (1833-1870), brother of the celebrated poet Gustavo Adolfo, marks the culmination of this Romantic interest in the picturesque and folk customs, bringing it close to the objective analysis of reality evident in the work of the following generation.

Room 62B

Federico de Madrazo (1815-1894) was the most influential artist within the context of Spanish culture of the day due to his cosmopolitan training, his remarkable gifts as a portraitist and his privileged position at Court as First Court Painter. Profoundly influenced by his time in Italy, his style was also founded on his admiration for contemporary French painting and above all, on his profound knowledge of the great masters on display in the Museo del Prado, of which he was director, like his father, José.

Madrazo painted religious and historical compositions but was particularly celebrated as a portraitist, producing exquisitely painted and elegant images such as the nine on display here.

These portraits are displayed alongside a sensual sculpture by Sabino de Medina entitled 'The Nymph Eurydice Bitten by the Viper,' and 'Pompeiian Scene' (The Nap) by the Dutch painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The latter was the leading representative of the new purist style that influenced European painting and this singular, tranquil composition looks to the influence of classical antiquity.

Room 61B

This thematic display is devoted to the figure of Eduardo Rosales (1836-1873) and features seven works by the artist as well as 'The Surrender of Bailén' by Casado del Alisal. Like Rosales, the latter took Velázquez as his starting point to make the crucial leap towards the new realism that evolved in Spanish painting. These canvases are displayed alongside a sculpture by Agapito Vallmitjana of The recumbent Christ, for which documentary sources indicate that Rosales was the model.

Room 61

The survey now reaches the large room devoted to history painting. It displays six monumental works that exalt newly emerging national values and reflects the themes preferred by official art during the second half of the 19th century. The first generation of history painters was characterized by an adherence to pure academicism and above all to an iconography that focused on particularly important moments in the lives of leading figures from Spanish history. Later, under the influence of Rosales, this genre adopted a notably realist visual idiom that was used to exalt the great themes derived from Romanticism, such as love, honor and death. This trend culminates in one of the great masterpieces of the genre, 'Juana la Loca' by Francisco Pradilla (1848-1921), on display in this gallery.

The six large-format canvases on display here are accompanied by the dramatic sculpture 'Sagunto' by Agustín Querol, which has not been on public display since 1997 and which now presides over the centre of the gallery.

Room 62

This gallery is devoted to Mariano Fortuny (1838-1874) and his circle and features fifteen works. Fortuny’s dazzling success in Europe made him a leading figure within the international art world. His brilliant, exquisite style achieved its most complete expression in his genre scenes and in works inspired by North Africa and the Middle East. The Painter’s 'Children in the Japanese Room,' a remarkably convincing and boldly expressed composition, is an example of this Oriental influence.

The landscape painter Martín Rico (1833-1908) benefited from his close friend Fortuny’s success on the Paris art market and based himself on the latter’s stylistic concepts in order to produce landscapes and urban views such as the spectacular 'View of Paris from the Trocadero.'


On the basis of Fortuny’s dazzling success, other Spanish artists were able to break into the international art market. The most significant example is Raimundo de Madrazo (1841-1920), Fortuny’s brother-in-law and close friend. This gallery includes seven works by Madrazo, together with five by four other artists, including Vicente Palmaroli (1834-1896) and the Sevillian painter José Jiménez Aranda (1837-1903), whose brilliantly virtuoso and decorative style is evident in 'Penitents in the Lower Church at Assisi,' on display here for the first time.


The gallery devoted to realist landscape displays twenty works, sixteen of them by Carlos de Haes, the pre-eminent Spanish landscape painter of the day, and four by his contemporaries, the Catalans Luis Rigalt (1814-1894) and Ramón Martí Alsina (1826-1894), the Valencian Antonio Muñoz Degrain, and the Madrid painter Martín Rico (1833-1908). Before arriving at the most productive and celebrated phase of his career, which was influenced by Fortuny, Rico’s early work was influenced by French landscape painting. In the second half of the 19th century these artists were involved in a process of artistic renewal that totally transformed the Romantic sensibility through the medium of landscape and their approach to its depiction, based on preliminary studies made out of doors.


This gallery features ten works by artists active in the last quarter of the 19th century. Their interest in naturalism brought them close to the realist ideas of Eduardo Rosales and Mariano Fortuny that manifested themselves in Spanish art at the end of the century. This period saw the rise of the regional schools, among which Valencia was a leading centre. Notable Valencian painters include Muñoz Degrain, Francisco Domingo Marqués (1842-1929), Emilio Sala (1850-1910) and Ignacio Pinazo (1849-1916), who worked in a variety of genres including portraiture and landscape and evolved notably modern styles. The striking 'Large Landscape' (Aragon) by Francisco Domingo Marqués is displayed here for the first time since its acquisition in 2000.


The second gallery devoted to history painting once again includes monumental canvases, in this case five significant works by young painters of the last third of the century who used historical subjects to achieve professional success in the light of the importance given to this genre in the National Exhibitions in Spain. All of them achieved considerable fame through the genre of history painting, depicting major moments in Spanish history as well as dramatic literary subjects that enjoyed great popularity, for example 'The Lovers of Teruel' by Antonio Muñoz Degrain. These artists particularly focused on the idea of heroes as victims, both from the distant past and in contemporary history. The most important example of the latter is 'The Execution of Torrijos and his Companions on the Beach' at Malaga by Antonio Gisbert (1835-1902). This masterpiece of late 19th-century history painting was directly commissioned by the Spanish government for display in the Museo del Prado, of which the artist was director from 1868 to 1873.


The last gallery, which is the eleventh in this series of rooms devoted to the 19th century, focuses on the great Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923). Together with Aureliano de Beruete (1845-1912), Sorolla is the most important artist of the late 19th/early 20th century to be represented in the Prado’s collection. This room features ten outstanding examples of his work, chosen from among the nineteen canvases by Sorolla in the Prado’s collection. Also on display is the delicate sculpture entitled 'Love Song' by Mariano Benlliure, a fellow Valencian.

Among the most famous works by Sorolla to be seen here is 'And They Still Say Fish is Expensive!,' the painting that brought him his first public triumph and the greatest masterpiece of social realism in Spanish art. It reflects Sorolla’s close links with and awareness of the lives of fishermen and their families in his native Valencia. A later canvas, 'Boys on the Beach,' is a reflection of his unique, joyous and light-filled interpretation of the Mediterranean and is also one of the best-known works in the Prado’s modern collection. On display for the first time since its acquisition by the Museum in 2000 is 'María Figueroa' as a young girl dressed as a Menina.


This room, which presents groups of works from the permanent collection, has been designed to offer a changing, temporary display of works from the 19th century, selected from among the holdings that have not been included in the permanent display.

The first display in this new room is devoted to the evocative landscapes of the Madrid painter Aureliano de Beruete (1845-1912), who, alongside Joaquín Sorolla, is the most important Spanish artist of the late 19th/early 20th century to be represented in the Prado. Together, they conclude the survey of 19th-century Spanish art presented by the Museum. This room temporarily displays the finest landscapes by Beruete in the Prado’s collection, while the manner in which they are hung is intended to recall the exhibition organized in the artist’s honour after his death by his great friend Sorolla and held in the latter’s house. As on that occasion, Sorolla’s portrait of his friend presides over the room, surrounded by the twenty works by Beruete that conclude this historical overview.

The Museo del Prado | The 19th Century | San Baudelio de Berlanga | Goya |

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