El Greco, Goya, and a Taste for Spain: Highlights from The Bowes Museum
This exhibition explores painting techniques from the early sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries while also taking a closer look at John and Joséphine Bowes’s role in the history of the collection and display of Spanish art outside of Spain.
The Bowes Museum in County Durham, UK, is home to the largest collection of Spanish painting in the British Isles. The collection represents the life-work of John and Joséphine Bowes, who, through key connections with dealers in Paris, amassed a collection noted for its depth and breadth, quality and quantity during the second half of the nineteenth century. Their museum opened to the public in 1892, and continues to serve the people of northern England with an engaging series of exhibitions and public programs.
This focused exhibition –it consists of just under a dozen works– showcases the finest of the Bowes’s collection of Spanish painting. The exhibition will feature artists such as Juan de Borgoña (c. 1470–1536), El Greco (1541–1614), and Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), and paintings on panel and canvas ranging from the early sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries.
This was a crucial period in the history and development of Spanish art as artists transitioned from producing large, gold-encrusted retable panels of saints to intimate portraits and scenes taken from life, as is the case with Goya’s harrowing Interior of a Prison (1793–94). It is an exhibition of three centuries of saints and sinners, secular and sacred likenesses meant to inspire devotion, admiration, and at times discomfort.