El Greco to Velazquez / Landmark exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

El Greco to Velazquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III
Exhibition > November 9, 2008

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presents the exhibition, El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III, the first comprehensive exhibition of art made for this Spanish court four centuries ago.

Among the works of two giants of Spanish art, the show will introduce great unknown masters of painting and sculpture.

Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577 – 1640

Peter Paul Rubens
Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma, about 1603
Oil on canvas
111 7/16 x 78 ¾ inches
Collection of the Museo Nacionaldel Prado. Madrid
© All rights reserved

The exhibition includes 52 master paintings, including seven late works by El Greco, three early works by Velázquez and works by their contemporaries, lesser known but talented artists.

El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III, the largest-ever assemblage of international loans of Spanish art in the Southeast, includes monumental altar pieces, life-sized portraits, some of the earliest still-life paintings in Europe, full-length carved and painted wooden sculptures of Spanish saints and more than 50 pieces of period glass and ceramics.

El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III sheds light on two of the greatest painters in history. Their work, and that of overlooked painters – among them Juan Sánchez Cotán, Gregorio Fernández, Juan Bautista Maino and Luis Tristán – formed the foundation for the Spanish Golden Age.

The show brings to life the little-known period of 23 years (1598-1621) when Philip III ruled Spain, and when Spain dominated the world with holdings greater than the Roman Empire. This period of Spanish history – with its pageantry, religious passion, art patronage, political intrigue and literary accomplishments – rivals the eras of Elizabethan England and France under Louis XIV.

Juan Sànchez Cotàn, Spanish, 1560 – 1627

Juan Sànchez Cotàn
Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, about 1600
Oil on canvas,
21 ¼ x 33 ½ inches
Collection of the San Diego Museum of Art
© All rights reserved

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Greek, active in Spain, 1541 – 1614

El Greco
Fray HortensioFélix Paravicino, 1609
Oil on canvas,
44 1/8 x 33 7/8 inches
Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Courtesy of the Isaac Sweetser Found
© All rights reserved

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velàzquez, Spanish, 1599 – 1660

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velàzquez
The Immaculate Conception, 1618 – 1619
Oil on canvas
53 1/8 x 40 inches
Collection of the National Gallery, London.
Bought with the aid of the Art Found, 1974
© All rights reserved

Works included in the exhibition represent important national and international loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid; the Musée des Beaux Arts in Strasbourg, France; the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; the National Gallery in London and others. The majority of the works on loan have never traveled abroad; some are drawn from private collections and churches in Spain for which the pieces were originally commissioned.

“This exhibition is a 20-year dream come true. We have gathered the best masterpieces by artists working during the reign of Philip III, whose careers, like that of the king, I hope to restore to their proper place in history. I know visitors will be surprised at the enormous talent of these ‘rediscovered’ artists and will enjoy learning about the beginnings of the Golden Age of Spain.”

Sarah Schroth, co-curator of the exhibition

This exhibition examines the epoch of Philip III through a new lens. Schroth discovered 13 inventories of the paintings and goods of the king’s favorite, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, the Duke of Lerma, a discovery that has put to rest the standard view of Spain as a cultural backwater during Philip III’s reign. These documents indicate that Lerma was the first mega-collector in Europe, amassing an extraordinary collection of more than 2,000 paintings. Among them was the monumental Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma (1603, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid), which is in the exhibition, that the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens painted while on a diplomatic mission to the Spanish court. The inventories also mention nearly 900 pieces of luxury glass, porcelain, ceramics and redware that Lerma arranged in a camarín, or “little room,” which will be evocatively reconstructed for the exhibition.


El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III, published by MFA Publications, features a new interpretation of the careers of the mature El Greco and the young Velázquez, which bracket this exciting period of resurgent court culture. The book also examines the life and work of the court artists and others outside the court who exerted a critical influence on the development of Spanish painting and sculpture. In addition, essays by several noted scholars provide a perspective on the historical, literary, cultural and religious environment in which these artists flourished. Essayists include the co-curators and leading experts in Spain’s Golden Age history and culture. Large in scale with 162 sumptuous color illustrations, El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III is the first comprehensive study of this period in Spanish art. The 351-page book is available in hard cover ($65) and soft cover ($40), and will be available at the Nasher Museum Store or by visiting http://www.nasher.duke.edu.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: