June 22, 2012 - Queensland Art Gallery - Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado
June 22, 2012

Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado

Diego Velázquez, Mars (El dios Marte)
c.1638. Oil on canvas, 179 x 95 cm.*

Portrait of Spain
Masterpieces from the Prado

21 July–4 November 2012

Queensland Art Gallery
Gallery of Modern Art
Stanley Place, Brisbane


Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado will be a survey of the development of painting in Spain from 1550 to 1900, and the first collection of work from Madrid’s esteemed Museo Nacional del Prado to visit Australia.

Curated by Javier Portús, Chief Curator of Spanish Painting to 1700, Museo Nacional del Prado, Portrait of Spain highlights the internal and external factors that influenced the evolution of painting in Spain, and includes masterpieces by renowned painters who worked for the Spanish royal court, including Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez, Ribera, and Goya.

Courtly life under the Habsburg (1516–1700) and Bourbon (1700–1808) monarchs is glimpsed through paintings from the Royal Collections, which formed the basis of the Prado when it was established in 1819. These include portraits, mythological scenes, devotional paintings, and exquisite still lifes that reveal the splendour of Spain’s ‘Golden Age.’

The life and times of various levels of Spanish civil society are portrayed in works by noted artists from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The work of Francisco de Goya is represented by major paintings and an important selection of prints from his three extraordinary and confronting series, Los Caprichos, Los Disparates, and Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War).

The emergence of a fledgling Spanish national identity in the mid-nineteenth century is witnessed in a series of landscapes, portraits, religious scenes, and nudes by major figures in nineteenth-century Spanish painting, such as Federico de Madrazo, Eduardo Rosales, Mariano Fortuny, Aureliano de Beruete, and Joaquín Sorolla.

The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated 304-page exhibition catalogue with an in-depth essay exploring the development of what is now appreciated as the ‘Spanish School’ of painting, as well as detailed entries on each of the 101 exhibited art works; and Portrait of Spain for Kids, a hardcover book introducing some of the most significant artists represented in the Prado’s Collection through ten selected art works.

The Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque will present a major historical survey of Spanish cinema, 100 Years of Spanish Cinema. This program traces a fascinating path through Spain’s national cinema, paralleling the country’s turbulent modern history and charting the political, social, and industrial shifts that have informed Spanish cultural identity. It will include works from pioneers of the silent era through to those working under dictatorship and in the transition to democracy, and the latest generation of filmmakers working in post-Franco Spain.

A separate, ticketed cinema retrospective will feature the films of acclaimed contemporary Spanish screenwriter and director Pedro Almodóvar.

La Sala del Prado
Visitors to Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado are invited to experience the vibrancy of Spanish art, history, food, and culture in La Sala del Prado—a large-scale lounge environment adjoining the exhibition. Inspired by contemporary Spanish design, the Sala offers multimedia interactives and drawing activities based on works in Portrait of Spain. Over the course of the exhibition period, programs and events in the Sala will delve further into both Spanish history and contemporary culture.

The Prado by Francesco Jodice
To complement Portrait of Spain the Gallery presents two contemporary video works commissioned by the Prado, by Italian artist Francesco Jodice, that pay tribute to the visitors of the Prado. In The Prado by Francesco Jodice (2011), a moving ‘human atlas’ of the museum’s visitors is presented, registering the relationship between the vast cultural heritage of the Prado’s collections and its audiences.

Director: Tony Ellwood

For additional information, images, or interview requests, please contact:
Kendall Battley, Senior Media Officer: T + 61 (0)7 3840 7162 / kendall.battley@qagoma.qld.gov.au

*Image above:
Diego Velázquez (Seville / Madrid, 1599–1660), Mars (El dios Marte), c.1638. Oil on canvas, 179 x 95 cm. Collection: Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. © Photographic Archive, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Queensland Art Gallery
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