Thursday, May 08, 2008

El Greco to Velázquez Art During the Reign of Philip III

at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through July 27, 2008

For any of you who are in striking distance of Boston, I highly recommend this exhibit. It is absolutely wonderful, has several paintings that I am familiar with from years of reading art history, but also many pieces I had never seen in print or otherwise. Much of the work by the two 'headliners,' El Greco and Velázquez, were real revelations in person. Even with modern high-quality reproduction, there is nothing like seeing the original, up close.

For this post, however, I'd like to focus on some of the still life paintings. These didn't seem to get the same attention from the viewers as the bigger and showier religious paintings. Yet these pieces are exquisite, and well worth the time and ticket to see just in themselves.

A few examples:

Felipe Ramírez Still Life with Cardoon, Francolin, Grapes and Irises, 1628
Oil on canvas, 28 X 36 3/16 in. (71 X 92 cm)
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Juan Sáchez Cotán Still Life with Fruit and Vegetables, about 1602
Oil on canvas 27 3/8 X 38 in. (69.5 X 96.5 cm)
Varez Fisa Collection, Spain

Juan Sáchez Cotán Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, about 1600
Oil on canvas 27 1/4 X 33 1/2 in. (69.2 X 85.1 cm)
San Diego Museum of Art

Juan Sáchez Cotán Still Life with Game Fowl, about 1600
Oil on canvas 26 11/16 X 34 15/16 in. (67.8 X 88.7 cm)
The Art Institute of Chicago

These pieces and about a dozen other still lifes and domestic paintings by other artists including Alejandro De Loarte, Juan Van Der Hamen Y León, and Velázquez could have held my attention for hours.

Add to that the many portraits, the religions works and mythological works, the previously mention opportunity to see all of these up close, and the exhibit provides an incredible view of art in Spain at the end of the 16th Century on into the 17th.

The show also includes several amazing wooden polychrome sculptures of Saints on loan from Spanish churches, and has a reconstruction of a "treasure room" of glassware, pottery, silver and objects of curiosity (sort of a "Cabinet of Curiosities" of the craftwork of men) originally set up by the Spanish Royalty to impress their visitors.

Again, I can not say enough how highly I recommend seeing this exhibition.

Images from El Greco to Velázquez, Art During the Reign of Philip III by Sarah Schroth and Ronni Baer, with essays by Ronni Baer, Laura R. Bass, Antonio Feros, Rosemarie Mulcahy, and Sarah Schroth MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Published in association with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. © 2008 ISBN 978-0-87846-726-6 (hardcover) $65.00 (Museum Members get a discount).

I also highly recommend the book, which contains much useful information, and a catalogue of the show, for a total of 162 high quality color illustrations

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