'Renaissance to Goya: prints and drawings from Spain'
Travel in time and across the globe to explore Spain’s graphic arts from mid-16th to 19th centuries as seen through the eyes of the British Museum in London.
This exhibition brings together for the first time prints and drawings by Spanish and other European artists working in Spain from the mid 16th to the early 19th century. It provides a compelling overview of more than 200 years of artistic production, including many works which have never before been on display.
Beginning with works by 16th-century artists working in and around Madrid, the selection progresses chronologically and by region. Spain’s Golden Age (the 17th century) is represented by important artists such as Diego Velázquez, Vicente Carducho and Alonso Cano in Madrid, Bartolomé Murillo and Francisco de Zubarán in Seville, and José de Ribera in Spanish Naples.
Turning to the 18th century, key works by Francisco de Goya, his contemporaries and foreign artists such as the Italians Giambattista Tiepolo and his sons demonstrate how printmaking and drawing greatly increased during the period, forever changing the artistic landscape of Spain.
How could the Spanish drawing tradition have been overlooked? In the definitive book that accompanies the exhibition, Mark McDonald makes the case that Spanish drawings are rare because they were not regarded as collectable works of art in their time. Historically, Spaniards with taste and means preferred to acquire the work of Italian artists rather than patronize their compatriots. Spanish artists regarded drawing simply as a tool in developing compositions for paintings or for recording a finished work before it left the studio. The stained, torn, and folded condition of many of the surviving examples indicates hard use indeed in studios where the sheets provided models for multiple reuses. Printmaking did not take off until the late 18th century because aggressive marketing from the print production centers of Paris and Antwerp made local investment in printmaking equipment seem unnecessary. This combined with modern scholars’ focus on French, Italian, and Dutch sheets allowed the misconception that there was little or no Spanish graphic art before Goya, a notion definitively put to rest by the current exhibition.
Curated by Mark McDonald (British Museum.) Hours: Tuesdays – Sundays, from 10 am to 5 pm. $6 Admission for New Mexico residents and $9 for non-residents.