THE MASAVEU COLLECTION
The MASAVEU COLLECTION has reached a collaboration agreement with THE MARÍA CRISTINA MASAVEU PETERSON FOUNDATION, whose foundational purpose is the dissemination of Spanish Historical Heritage and the promotion of Arts and Culture, in general, to take over the management of artistic exploitation Art Collection through various cultural exhibition projects and publications. This act will allow the dissemination and better undertanding in our society as prestigious artistic heritage.
The Masaveu Collection, owned by the Masaveu Corporation, is one of the most important private art collections in Spain. It is notable not only for its large number of pieces (more than 1,500), which span from the Middle Ages to the present day, but also for their outstanding quality and variety (paintings, drawings, sculptures, tapestries and documents, among others). Assembled and enlarged over the course of several generations of the Masaveu family, this collection reflects its owners’ love of art as well as the prevailing model of Spanish private collecting established by the new bourgeoisie of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Generation after generation, the Masaveu family have shown their passion for art in its various expressions by building up a collection characterised by attachment to tradition, open-mindedness and a spirit of continuity, together with other values and particular characteristics.
Initially centred on medieval and Renaissance painting and decorative arts, the family’s interests gradually broadened to include artistic expressions of later centuries, extending to the foremost names in contemporary art by the final decades of the twentieth century. Works by prestigious artists such as Juan de Flandes, Joos van Cleve, Mathis Gerung, El Greco, Murillo, Zurbarán, Luis de Morales, Alonso Cano, Ribera, Juan de Arellano, Luis Meléndez, Goya, Vicente López, Ramon Casas, Fortuny, Santiago Rusiñol, Sorolla, Picasso, Dalí, Braque, Miró, Warhol, Antonio López and Barceló can all be found in the Masaveu Collection.
The entrepreneurial dynasty started out in Oviedo with Pedro Masaveu Rovira (1827–1885). However, it was under his successor Elías Masaveu Rivell (1847–1924) that the first art gallery in Asturias was opened in the mid-nineteenth century – a foretaste of the Masaveu family’s artistic and philanthropic leanings. The collection was begun slightly later by Pedro Masaveu Masaveu (1886–1968), who acquired works by great masters of the history of painting, thus establishing a long tradition of patronage that has continued to the present day. In the twentieth century his son Pedro Masaveu Peterson (1938–1993) branched out into new areas, acquiring pieces from the Middle and Modern Ages as well as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in addition to assembling his own collection, which is now on view at the Museo de Bellas Artes of Asturias. As he died without issue, his sister María Cristina Masaveu Peterson (1937–2006) became the group’s main shareholder and took responsibility for the legacy. Remaining loyal to the family’s tradition of patronage, she set up the Fundación María Cristina Masaveu Peterson, which has managed the Masaveu Collection since 2013.
Thanks to all these generations, today the holdings of the Masaveu Collection are so abundant and diverse that they can be viewed and enjoyed through a variety of approaches to the development of Spanish art from the thirteenth century to the present day. Indeed, the collection is one of the finest examples of collecting and patronage in Spain today.
EARLY PAINTING IN THE MASAVEU COLLECTION
One of the core groups of works in the Masaveu Collection is its rich medieval and Renaissance holdings, most of which were acquired by Pedro Masaveu Masaveu and Pedro Masaveu Peterson.
The medieval and modern paintings assembled by the Masaveu family (some three hundred works) mainly consist of Spanish pieces and can be divided into two clearly differentiated groups. The first is a complete collection of medieval and early Renaissance pieces. In it the large number of fifteenth-century Valencian and Catalan paintings, represented by foremost works by painters such as Jacomart, Joan Reixach, Bartolomé de Castro and Fernando Gallego, allows the development of painting from International Gothic style to Hispano-Flemish tradition to be traced. The second group is made up of Renaissance and Baroque pieces. As well as fine examples by naturalist and Mannerist artists such as El Greco, Luis de Morales, Vicente Carducho and Ribera, it features a large selection of Spanish Golden-Age painters, including Zurbarán, Alonso Cano, Murillo and Carreño de Miranda.
Outside the religious sphere, the collection possesses a considerable number of still-life paintings, which enjoyed great importance in Spanish Baroque art. They are excellently represented in the collection by superb examples by Tomás Yepes, Juan de Arellano, Pedro de Camprobín, Juan de van der Hamen, Luis Meléndez and Juan Bautista de Espinosa. Notable among the collection’s genre paintings are works by Francisco de Goya, thanks to whom Spanish painting blazed new trails into modernity.
Although European paintings are considerably outnumbered by their Spanish counterparts, mention should be made of a series of Flemish and Italian pieces. Among the Flemish and Northern European paintings, we find both Renaissance (Joos van Cleve, Master of the Magdalen Legend, Mathis Gerung) and Baroque artists (Frans Snyders, Peter Snayers, Jan Brueghel de Velours and Rembrandt). Although less well represented than Flemish works, Italian paintings make up a prominent group which includes pieces by Fra Filippo Lippi, Guido Reni, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Francesco Bassano “The Younger”, Jacobo Palma “The Younger” and even Raphael.
All this makes the Masaveu holdings of early painting and sculpture one of the most important private collections of religious art in Spain, with excellent examples.
The Masaveu Collection owns the largest private holdings of nineteenth-century Spanish painting in Spain. This period is therefore one of the best represented in the Masaveu Collection in terms of both quality and quantity. The approximately four hundred nineteenth-century pieces in the collection allow us to trace the complete history of Spanish painting of the period.
Like the very history of nineteenth-century Spanish painting, this group of works begins with the academicism of Vicente López and continues with paintings by Eugenio Lucas Velázquez, Genaro Pérez Villamil and Antonio María Esquivel, among others.
Landscape and genre painting of the mid-1800s is represented by works by Eliseo Meifrén, Aureliano de Beruete, Mariano Fortuny, José Benlliure, José Villegas y Cordero, Manuel Barrón and Sánchez Barbudo.
Nevertheless, the main core of these holdings consists of fin-de-siècle Catalan and Valencian painting, including pieces by the foremost artists of the period. Pedro Masaveu Peterson enthusiastically acquired canvases by Cecilio Pla, Joaquim Mir, Laureano Barrau Bruñol, José Cusachs, Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, assembling a significant number of masterful examples of their output. Special mention should be made of the collection of works by Joaquín Sorolla, which number more than fifty and include examples on canvas, panel and paper, making the Masaveu holdings an essential source for studying and learning about the Valencian master’s career.
As for the 1900s, the collection owns excellent examples of Spanish art of the first third of the century. The influence of modernist symbolism can be traced in the painting of Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa, Ricardo Urgell, Julio Romero de Torres and Manuel Benedito, and the tremendismo – the gritty realism of the Generation of 1898 tempered by expressionistic distortion – is found in pieces by Gutiérrez Solana, Ignacio Zuloaga and Isidro Nonell.
Separate mention should be made of Asturian painting, with examples by artists such as León y Escosura, Dionisio Fierros, Juan Martínez Abades, Luis Menéndez Pidal and Evaristo Valle (assembled thanks to the dedication of Elías Masaveu Alonso del Campo), while regionalist art is represented in the collection by Valentín de Zubiarre and Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor, among others, with some of their finest works.
The Masaveu Collection preserves a select group of works and painters that have in common their markedly modernising influence. This section features works by some of the foremost avant-garde artists of Spain, such as Cubists Picasso, Juan Gris and María Blanchard and Surrealists Salvador Dalí, Francisco Bores, Oscar Domínguez, Benjamín Palencia and Joan Miró.
As for the second half of the twentieth century, Spanish Art Informel (known as informalismo) is well represented in the collection by works by Tàpies, Lucio Muñoz, the “El Paso” group (Millares, Antonio Saura, Luis Feito and Rafael Canogar) and the School of Cuenca headed by Gustavo Torner and Fernando Zóbel. The collection also features painters who began to make a name for themselves in the 1980s, such as Antonio López, Juan Uslé and Miquel Barceló, the latter being particularly well represented in the Masaveu holdings.
Although they are fewer in number, the collection owns pieces by famous foreign artists of the avant-garde movement (Georges Braque and Foujita) and of the 1960s (Andy Warhol).
The Masaveu Collection possesses more than three hundred sculptures, mostly Spanish religious pieces.
The timespan from the medieval to the Renaissance periods is particularly well represented and there are various examples of Baroque sculpture. The collection thus traces the formal development of sculpture in Spain through the various schools and distinct artistic periods, with works by sculptors such as Diego de Siloé, Alonso Berruguete, Andrés de Nájera and Pedro de Mena. A few foreign groups provide an interesting overview of the sculpture being produced in other parts of Europe, such as Flanders, during these periods.
The collection furthermore features works by renowned nineteenth-century artists, among them Benlliure and Auguste Rodin, twentieth-century names like Miró, Dalí, Picasso, Eduardo Chillida and Manolo Valdés, and even foreign sculptors such as Henry More.
In addition to paintings, drawings and sculptures, the Masaveu Collection includes numerous objects such as furniture, vases, musical instruments (for example a Stradivarius violin dated 1720), tapestries and an extensive library made up of many first editions of the most representative authors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Prominent among these are the Book of Hours, an illuminated incunabulum by the artist Jean Poyet dated between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and an unpublished Codex by Lope de Vega bringing together a varied group of texts including poems, summaries of plays, letters and other everyday writings.