Written by Amie Royalty Saturday, 04 December 2010 02:59at http://www.osloart.com/
Madrid, Spain – As part of its inaugural programme marking the opening of the new extension, the Museo del Prado is presenting the exhibition Velázquez’ Fables, the first to offer an in-depth analysis of this aspect of the artist’s work as a painter of narratives. The exhibition brings together 27 works by the artist in addition to 24 by 17 other artists with the aim of revealing the context in which the artist executed some of his most important paintings. Among the works by Velázquez to be seen in the exhibition are 12 loans.
The 51 works in the exhibition depict a variety of subjects from biblical history, mythology and the classical world with the intention of focusing on Velázquez’ originality in his approach to such themes, his remarkable technical versatility and the development of his art over the course of a career spanning more than four decades. With this aim in mind, the 27 works by the painter are juxtaposed with a further 24 by various artists which allow for an appreciation of Velázquez’ response to external creative stimuli. Among the other artists in the exhibition are two sculptures by Martínez Montañés and Gregorio Fernández, paintings by earlier masters such as Titian and Caravaggio, and works by great Spanish painters of Velázquez’ own generation and the previous one such as El Greco, Ribera and Zurbarán.
It also includes examples of work by the leading non-Spanish artists of the day with whom the artist was familiar and who in some cases influenced his own painting such as the Flemish painter Rubens, the French artists Poussin and Claude Lorraine and the Italians Guercino, Guido Reni and Massimo Stanzione.
The group of works on display by Velázquez comprises his sacred and mythological compositions now in the collection of the Prado as well as other important paintings on loan. The latter include Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, The Immaculate Conception and Saint John the Evangelist from the National Gallery in London; Saint Paul from the MNAC in Barcelona; The Supper at Emmaus from Dublin; Joseph’s blood-stained Coat brought to Jacob from El Escorial (which will be seen next to Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan); and The Temptation of Saint Thomas from Orihuela.
Among the works by other artists represented in the exhibition special mention should be made of Poussin’s The Triumph of David; Saint John the Baptist by Martínez Montañés; Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife by Guido Reni; Democritus by Ribera; The Immaculate Conception by Alonso Cano; and Rubens’ Heraclitus.
Through the mythological and religious subjects he painted, Velázquez was able to address a broad range of expressive, formal and conceptual problems. This exhibition focuses on this facet of his oeuvre and encourages reflection on its importance. It examines the original manner in which he confronted these themes and the development his art over the course of his career.
Velázquez’s religious and mythological painting cannot be studied without taking into account the creative concerns of his contemporaries or the models from which he drew inspiration. The exhibition therefore includes a series of paintings and sculptures by seventeen different artists, allowing viewers to trace the creative context in which he worked.
Velázquez’s paintings are grouped into several sections, each of which features works by other artists, thereby establishing a three-way discourse between the painter’s thematic interests at a particular moment in his career, the evolution of his style and narrative technique, and the models available to him and his colleagues’ concerns.
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