Published: September 28, 2010
The greatest Spanish draftsmen from the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Century †Ribera, Murillo and Goya, among them †created works of dazzling idiosyncrasy. These diverse drawings, which may be broadly characterized as possessing a specifically “Spanish manner,” will be the subject of an exclusive exhibition at the Frick Collection from October 5 through January 9.
From October 26 through January 23, the Frick will offer a dossier presentation on the Velázquez portrait of Philip IV, which returned this winter from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, having been cleaned for the first time in more than 60 years.
The first exhibition, “The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya,” will feature more than 50 of the finest Spanish drawings from public and private collections in the Northeast, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hispanic Society of America, the Morgan Library & Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Opening the show are rare sheets by the early Seventeenth Century masters Francisco Pacheco and Vicente Carducho, followed by a number of spectacular red chalk drawings by the celebrated draftsman Jusepe de Ribera.
The exhibition continues with rapid sketches and paintinglike wash drawings from the rich oeuvre of the Andalusian master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, along with lively drawings by Francisco de Herrera the Elder and his son and the Madrid court artist Juan Carreño de Miranda, among others.
The second part of the “Spanish Manner” exhibition will present 22 sheets by the great draftsman Francisco de Goya, whose drawings are rarely studied in the illuminating context of the Spanish draftsmen who came before him. These works, mostly drawings from his private albums, attest to the continuity between his thematic interests and those of his Spanish forebears, as well as to Goya’s own enormously fertile imagination.
“The King at War: Velázquez’s Portrait of Philip IV” examines the portrait, which, painted at the height of Velázquez’s career, is one of the artist’s consummate achievements. Contemporary chronicles as well as bills and invoices in Spanish archives indicate that it was painted in a makeshift studio only a few miles from the frontlines of a battle, and that it was completed in just three sittings. The work, which shows its subject dressed in military costume, an atypical depiction, was sent to Madrid where it was used during a victory celebration. Displayed in a church under a rich canopy embroidered in gold, the painting embodied the contemporary idea of monarchy as the divinely sanctioned form of government.
Following the painting’s cleaning, the gleaming silver brocade covering the king’s crimson cassock is executed in a shockingly free and spontaneous manner, which is almost unparalleled in the painter’s production and can now be better appreciated. The treatment by Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild conservator in charge of paintings conservation, revealed the dazzling original surface that had been veiled by a yellowing varnish.
The Frick Collection is at 1 East 70th Street. For information, www.frick.org or 212-547-6866.
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