Spanish Nineteenth-Century Painting
From Goya to Modernism
4 OCTOBER, 2019 – 31 DECEMBER, 2020
The Masaveu Collection, assembled by several generations of this prominent family of entrepreneurs with an interest in collecting, is one of the most important in Spain in terms of both quality and size. It continues to grow to this day thanks to the activity carried out in recent years by the Fundación María Cristina Masaveu Peterson, which was founded in 2006 to promote art, culture, education and research. To mark the opening of its Madrid headquarters, a refurbished building adapted to its new purpose, it is presenting a selection of 117 works from one of the most interesting core groups of its extensive and varied holdings, the collection of Spanish nineteenth-century painting.
The selection, which spans from Francisco de Goya to Modernism and Catalan Postmodernism, highlights the richness and variety of the paintings in the collection and also illustrates the developments in art during that period. It features the most prominent Spanish painters of the day. The exhibition begins with two significant works by Francisco de Goya and Agustín Esteve, a Neoclassical portrait by Zacarías González Velázquez, and four paintings by Vicente López that illustrate his evolution from the late Baroque references of his formative period to the Romantic leanings of his final works. Romanticism is very well represented in the exhibition by artists from the two main centres of this movement, Seville and Madrid. Portraits by Antonio María Esquivel and his son Carlos María and four views by Manuel Barrón attest to the quality the Sevillian artists achieved in both genres. The Madrid painters also excelled in portraiture, as illustrated by three works from the youth and early maturity of the foremost practitioner of this genre, Federico de Madrazo. In addition, reminiscences of Goya’s tapestry cartoons and scenes of war and violence are excellently conveyed in the works of Eugenio Lucas Velázquez. The genre paintings of Dionisio Fierros and Eduardo Rosales (including a recently recovered major work by the latter, which was previously unlocated) attest to artists’ interest in genre scenes during the transition from Romanticism to realism.
The next section of the exhibition examines the various trends that emerged in the last third of the century, including history painting (in which Ignacio León and Francisco Domingo excelled) and landscape, the driving force behind the renewal in both its realist (Carlos de Haes, Agustín Riancho, Martín Rico, Mariano Fortuny and Luis Álvarez Catalá) and naturalist variants (Aureliano de Beruete, Eliseo Meifrén, José Moreno Carbonero and Cecilio Pla, among others). The portrayal of customs also attracted the attention of painters, some of whom, such as Luis Menéndez Pidal, were influenced by the Spanish Golden Age realist tradition; others, like brothers José and Luis Jiménez Aranda, looked to the naturalist painting of Jules Bastien-Lepage; and others still, such as José Villegas, Dionisio Baixeras and Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor, focused on brilliant, casual depictions of bourgeois leisure activities.
The next section features some of the many works of Joaquín Sorolla that form the core of the nineteenth-century holdings of the Masaveu Collection. This diversity has made it possible to select a large group of first-rate works that illustrate nearly all the genres espoused by the Valencian painter.
The renewal movement triggered by Sorolla’s success is also very well represented by the works of Darío de Regoyos (among them the artist’s last painting), Francisco Iturrino, Ignacio Zuloaga, Julio Romero de Torres, Evaristo Valle, Valentín de Zubiaurre and Juan de Echevarría. This renewal, which was particularly notable in Catalonia, is powerfully present in the exhibition Modernism is illustrated by Santiago Rusiñol, whose four paintings on view span his entire career, Ramón Casas with three works, and Hermen Anglada-Camarasa with ten, making him the second best-represented artist in the collection, whose last works date from the 1920s and 1930s. The exhibition ends with several significant pictures by Catalan Postmodernist painters: four scenes of gypsy women dated between 1901 and 1909 by Isidro Nonell and landscapes by Joaquín Mir and Joaquín Sunyer.
The exhibition of these paintings from the Masaveu Collection stems from the Fundación María Cristina Masaveu’s wish to disseminate Spanish nineteenth-century art. Many have been recovered from foreign collections, carefully restored and framed and, currently placed on view, help promote knowledge of Spain’s vast heritage through the artistic expression in which it enjoyed greatest prominence, painting, during the period that saw the emergence of modern art.