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Renaissance to Goya: prints and drawings from Spain at the British Museum

  • Nov 23, 2012 · 6:45 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

The British Museum, apart from its impressive permanent displays, offers the visitors periodically a chance to sample some of the treasures not normally available to the public. One such opportunity has arrived this autumn.

This free exhibition brings together for the first time prints and drawings by mainly Spanish and important European artists working in Spain from the mid-16th to the first decades of the 19th century, many of which have never before been on display. The museum's collection of Spanish graphic art is the second most important in the world after Prado.

According to the organizers the main concept was to do away with the erroneous perception of Spain as a country renowned for its architecture and paintings but lagging behind the rest of Europe such as Italy or France in graphic arts. The lack of study and appreciation of Spanish prints and drawings is partly due to the misapprehension that Spanish artists did not draw, an attitude that has since been revised through furher research. One of the reasons of that could be the fragmentation and dispersion of the Spanish art collections in the process of confiscation of Church properties throughout the 19th and early 20th century.

The exhibition provides also a unique opportunity to see the original preparatory sketches of actual paintings now on display in Madrid's Museo del Prado and London's National Gallery. There are 150 exhibits, arranged geographically and chronologically according to their origin and period of creation.

The first section revolves around the momentous time of construction of the famous El Escorial monastery/palace complex near Madrid in the late 16th century, accompanied by an increased demand for works of art. It was the period when Italian and Flemish masters such as Pellegrino Tibaldi, Zuccaro and Perret arrived and influenced greatly the contemporary Spanish artists.

The other parts of the display deal with the Spanish Golden Age in different regions, highlighting their own styles and connections between them as well as with other European countries. Hence, the Madrid/Granada section includes works of Diego Velázquez and Alonso Cano; Seville/Córdoba contains drawings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco Zurbarán and Valencia/Naples (once part of the Spanish kingdom) presents authors such as José de Ribera.

Finally, the last chapter is dedicated to Francisco de Goya y his contemporaries, from the end of 18th and the beginnings of 19th century, the time when the drawings and sketches really come into their own by exploring the human reality from all sorts of angles.

The exhibition is set to broaden our existing knowledge not only of the drawing and printing techniques but of the Spanish art and its international dimension in general.

The entry is free and we'll use the late opening on Friday (until 8.30pm) to see it in a more relaxed way, starting at 7.00. We'll go for drinks and conversation afterwards (place to be confirmed later).

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  • Martin

    An intriguing collection of black and white masterpieces, many depicting little bits of old Spain with outstanding naturalness; the provided historic background was very useful. Thanks Kuldip for suggesting a great place for drinks (lovely Belgian beers) to accompany our chat and everyone for your contribution to it plus patience at the beginning ;(

    November 24, 2012

  • Monica

    The exhibition was pretty good covering prints from very well know Spanish painters such as Velazquez, Berruguete and Goya

    November 24, 2012

  • Kuldip

    Thanks Martin for organising. Had interesting eve

    November 24, 2012

  • Ana

    Martin, thanks so much! It was very interesting! Almost as interesting as our chat afterwards! ;)

    November 23, 2012

  • summer

    I'm bit late, sorry I cannt make this today!

    November 23, 2012

  • summer

    It's really sound good

    November 23, 2012

  • Maja

    Because there is a long waiting list for this event, people who drop out in the last 24 hours prior to the event will be removed from the European Club. So now is the time to change your RSVP if you can't attend this exhibition on Friday.

    November 20, 2012

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