Mitchell A. Codding, director of the Hispanic Society of America, and Rafael Pardo, director of Fundación BBVA, formalised two collaborative agreements with the Museo del Prado
for the organisation of a major exhibition to be displayed in Rooms A, B and C of the Jerónimos Building from 4 April to 10 September next year, entitled Visions of the Hispanic World. Treasures from the Hispanic Society, Museum and Library. It will include around 200 works from the collection of the Hispanic Society, an institution founded in 1904 by Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955), which houses the most important collections of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American art outside the Iberian Peninsula.
The exhibition will include the New York-based Societys most important treasures, including archaeological items, Islamic and Spanish medieval art, works from the Golden Age of colonial art and from 19th-century Latin American and Spanish painting from the 19th and 20th centuries. It will be curated by Mitchell A. Codding, director of the Hispanic Society of America, and Miguel Falomir, associate director of conservation and research at the Museo del Prado.
Next year, the temporary exhibition galleries of the Museo del Prado will display treasures from the Museum and Library of the Hispanic Society. Founded more than a hundred years ago, the Society is located in upper Manhattan in New York, first opening to the public in 1908. It was the personal project of Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955), an American collector and Hispanist who set out to create an institution with a library and collection built up in a scholarly and systematic manner that would encourage a rigorous appreciation of Spanish culture as well as the in-depth study of the literature of Spain, Portugal and Latin America.
Starting in his teenage years, Huntington, son of one of the wealthiest men in the United States, developed a profound interest in the Hispanic world. His education and the experience he acquired during numerous trips to Europe aroused his interest in collecting, which was always directed at the eventual founding of a museum.
In barely fifty years Huntington formed a library and museum designed to encourage the study of Hispanic art through collections that were equally important for the quantity and quality of the works and for their broad chronological span. At the same time, he undertook important publishing activities in order to make rare books and manuscripts available to Hispanists in facsimile editions. Huntington based his acquisitions policy on a carefully meditated decision, prioritising the purchase of works outside Spain in order not to strip that country of its artistic treasures. As Jonathan Brown has noted, Huntington made the Hispanic Society the encyclopaedic repository of Spanish visual and literary culture.
The first part of the exhibition (Rooms A and B) will offer a chronological and thematic survey of artistic production in Spain and Latin America, featuring archaeological items from sites in the Iberian Peninsula, Roman sculpture, magnificent examples of ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, metalwork and outstanding pieces of Islamic, Medieval Spanish and Spanish Baroque jewellery. Particular importance will be given to Spanish painting, establishing a clear dialogue with works in the Prados collection, and to colonial art, which is so closely linked to artistic production in the Peninsula. There will also be a section on the Hispanic Societys library, one of the most important in the world, which will offer an idea of the resources it offers to research into the history and culture of Spain, Portugal and their former colonies.
On the upper floor (Room C) there will be an extensive display of the finest examples of Spanish painting from the 19th and early 20th centuries and an exceptional gallery of portraits of the leading Spanish intellectuals of the day, with whom Huntington enjoyed close connections. After World War I he ceased to make acquisitions for the Society but retained his connections with Spanish art through various painters, particularly Joaquín Sorolla, commissioning him to paint the famous series on The Regions of Spain for the Societys building.
Huntington was one of the figures who most advanced Hispanic studies in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, receiving recognition for his endeavours from prestigious American universities. He was also active on the boards of numerous Spanish museums and was elected a member of the principal royal academies in Spain.
The exhibition will pay tribute to Huntington and to the work undertaken by the Hispanic Society Museum and Library in the dissemination and study of Spanish culture in the United States.