|Cuándo:||18 sep de 2011 - 15 ene de 2012|
|Inauguración:||18 sep de 2011|
|Dónde:||Meadows Museum of Art - SMU Dallas / 5900 Bishop Boulevard. TX 75275-0001 / Dallas, Texas, Estados Unidos|
|Organizada por:||Meadows Museum of Art - SMU Dallas|
|Artistas participantes:||José de Ribera - El Españoleto|
When oilman Algur H. Meadows was interviewed by the Houston Chronicle in 1968 about the founding of the Meadows Museum, he replied that he wanted 'to build a small Prado in Texas.' This desire began while Mr. Meadows was working in Spain in the 1950s. Based in Madrid, Mr. Meadows would spend his off hours strolling through the galleries of the Museo Nacional del Prado, admiring its grand collection of old master paintings. Over time, the entrepreneur resolutely cultivated his dream of creating a collection which echoes the excellence of that of the Prado. His efforts resulted in one of the largest collections of Spanish art in the world beyond Spain's borders.
Mr. Meadows's 'Prado on the Prairie' took on a new and quite literal meaning beginning last year with the forging of the collaboration between the Meadows Museum and the Museo Nacional del Prado. This partnership, the first such international program for Spain's great art institution, entails the loan from the Prado's collection of three veritable masterpieces, each of which will be on view at the Meadows for several months beginning each September through 2012.
The inaugural season of the Prado-Meadows partnership, which began in the fall of 2010, featured the Pentecost by El Greco, the peripatetic sixteenth-century Cretan artist who settled in Spain and in time was adopted into the canon of Spanish art. A mainstay of the Prado's holdings, Pentecost is almost perennially on view in Madrid. This year's collaboration likewise features another anchor of the Prado's collection, The Magdalene (1641) by Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652). A Valencian painter of Spain's Siglo de Oro, Ribera established permanent residence in Italy at a young age, and would become one of the most influential artists in all of seventeenth-century Europe.
Born in Játiva in 1591, Ribera is already recorded as being in Italy as early as 1608 or 1609, and no later than 1610. Ribera's Neapolitan period (1616-1652) is traditionally the best understood of the artist's career. However, extensive research conducted since the first international exhibition of Ribera's paintings, which was held at the Kimbell Art Museum almost thirty years ago, has fleshed out Ribera's earlier phases in Rome and Parma after probably first arriving via Naples, where he likely met Caravaggio, who died in 1610. In Rome and Parma, Ribera received notable commissions, an indication that he must have been a well-trained, rather precocious artist before leaving his native Spain.
In art historical annals, Ribera has been claimed by both Spain and Italy as part of each country's own legacy. This dualistic identity emerged during Ribera's lifetime, propagated in part by the artist himself. When asked by fellow Spaniard painter Jusepe Martínez (1600-1682) in 1625 whether he had any plans to return to Spain, Ribera allegedly replied that 'when people know you are around they lose respect for you. This is confirmed because I have seen some works by excellent Spanish masters that were held in low esteem [in Spain]. Thus I judge Spain to be a loving mother to foreigners and a very cruel stepmother to her own sons.' Ribera possessed acute business acumen, and recognized the marketability of maintaining his Spanish identity in Seicento Italy. Ribera fervently maintained his allegiance to Spain, thereby acquiring the nickname 'lo Spagnoletto' (Italian for the 'little Spaniard'), probably during his Roman period. He would often sign his works with his name accompanied by the identifier 'español,' or its Latin equivalent, 'Hispanus.' After his arrival in Naples in 1616, Ribera would also include 'Partenope' (the Greek word for Naples) in his autograph. Naples had become part of Spain's kingdom in the fifteenth century; in the seventeenth century, around one-third of the ruling class of Naples consisted of Spaniards. Ribera therefore associated himself with the upper echelon of Neapolitan society, which generally preferred foreign painters to the city's native talent. As scholar Craig Felton has pointed out, being Spanish in seventeenth-century Naples was a 'mark of distinction' upon which Ribera capitalized.
Beyond socioeconomic concerns, Ribera's dualistic identity was manifested in the style of his painted canvases and graphic works. His art was thoroughly affected by Caravaggio's brand of chiaroscuro, identified by the illumination within a painting via an overhead light source. The influence of Caravaggio's method is attested to by evidence of Ribera's leasing contract in Rome, which stipulated that he was granted permission to cut a window into the roof of his penthouse studio. Running through all of Ribera's art, however, is a strident naturalism much closer to his Spanish origins than to the aesthetic concerns of Ribera's adopted country, where baroque theatricality and vibrant palettes often displaced the unfiltered realism and emotive intensity central to Spanish art.
Ribera's singular style was more attributable to his own individual sensibility than to any nationalistic artistic conventions, however. The painter pushed the boundaries of naturalism in terms of both subject matter and painterly device. Although Ribera worked in various modes of painting, from genre to mythological and biblical scenes, the brutal realism with which he painted martyred saints earned him a reputation in the seventeenth century as 'the cruel Ribera.' This notoriety carried on through centuries. In the nineteenth century, Lord Byron wrote in his poem Don Juan that Ribera had 'tainted His brush with all the blood of all the sainted,' summarizing Ribera's deeply incised reputation as a painter of violent martyrdom and mythological torture.
Countering Ribera's longstanding repute as a 'cruel' painter is his portrayal of the Magdalene in the Prado's collection. This work of astounding beauty, tenderness, and elegance is the focal point for the second installment of the Prado-Meadows partnership. Curated by Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, deputy director for collections and research at the Prado, Ribera: The Magdalene in a New Context focuses on a lesser-known facet of Ribera's oeuvre. Mary Magdalene was a central devotional figure in seventeenth-century Italy and Spain, and as such was a frequent subject of painters of the period. Ribera painted the Magdalene several times, adeptly capturing the vulnerability of the redeemed sinner with striking sensitivity.
To further emphasize Ribera's serene handling of his saintly females, this display of Ribera's work will be augmented by the loan of three additional paintings by the artist from distinguished international collections. Of particular note from the Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid is the Assumption of the Magdalene (1636), which, like the Prado's Magdalene by Ribera, was last exhibited in the United States at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992. These attendant loans feature Mary Magdalene and another female follower of Christ, Saint Mary of Egypt. A popular saint of the Mediterranean region in the seventeenth century, Saint Mary of Egypt had particular currency in Naples, where two churches, Santa Maria Egiziaca Forcella and the Convent of Santa Maria Egiziaca in Pizzofalcone, founded in the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries respectively, were dedicated to her. The two saints were closely associated, and their stories were often conflated. Like the Magdalene, Saint Mary of Egypt lived for several decades in the desert. Spending almost forty-seven years in desolate isolation, Saint Mary of Egypt was nourished temporally only by three loaves of bread, but edified spiritually by the word of God in penitence after her younger years as a prostitute in Alexandria. The inclusion of both female intercessors in the installation evidences Ribera's expertise in rendering physiognomy in various stages of life, such as the transitory beauty of the young Magdalene or the wizened features of the Egyptian-born saint. It has been rumored that Ribera cast his daughter Margarita as the female saints of many of his canvases, which, if true, would account for the depth of feeling his wide-eyed protagonists seem to exude.