The Hermitage Amsterdam, a subsidiary of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, will debut an exhibition of classical paintings from the Spanish Golden Age. Considered the largest display of Spanish art ever presented in a Dutch museum, Spanish Masters from the Hermitage: The world of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbaran, Velazquez, Murillo & Goya will be on view starting November 28th. The show features more than 60 superior paintings and a rich collection of graphic works and applied arts masterpieces, including an important set of illustrations and other valuable artworks.
The show will showcase masterpieces such as El Greco’s The Apostles Peter and Paul (1587-1592), Portrait of the Duke of Olivares (c.1638) by Velázquez, the Immaculate Conception (c.1680) by Murillo, and Goya’s Portrait of Antonia Zarate (1810-1811). Several prints from Goya’s unforgettable series The Disasters of War will also be part of this one-of-a-kind exhibit.
(L) H. Diego Velázquez de Silva (1599–1660); Portrait of Count-Duke de Olivares, c 1638.
(R) H. El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos, 1541–1614); The Apostles Peter and Paul, 1587–92.
The display is complemented by works of artists influenced by the legacy of the Golden Age, such as Ribalta, Ribera, Zuloaga, Iriarte, Luca Giordano and even Picasso.
The Golden Age of Spanish Art is considered one of the most significant periods in the history of the arts. Historians have established its beginning in the late 15th century and its peak during the effervescent 16th and part of the 17th centuries. It coincides with a time when the kingdom of Spain enjoyed economic and social expansion, as well as the consolidation of its monarchy and the conquest of the Americas by its legion of conquistadores.
The Golden Age is inevitably associated with the spiritual vitality of an empire that reached beyond the confines of Europe and became a center of world culture.
H. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682); Immaculate Conception, c 1680.
The gold and riches obtained from the colonization of America opened the doors to the expansion of the arts in Spain. Literature produced exceptional authors such as Miguel de Cervantes, Garcilaso de la Vega, Luis de Góngora, Francisco de Quevedo, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca and Fray Luis de León. There was also a proliferation of revered mystic writers such as St. Teresa of Ávila and San Juan de la Cruz. The musical arts were also affected by the wealth, pomp and circumstance of the Great Spanish Empire. Tomás Luis de Victoria, Francisco Guerrero, and Alonso Lobo brought Spain into the baroque musical scene of the time. And Gregorio Fernández, Alonso Berruguete, and Juan de Juni highlighted Spanish sculpture.
Antonio Nebrija set the basis for the Grammar of the Spanish Language during the Golden Age, and at its height, great learning centers gained international importance such as of the University of Salamanca and the University of Alcala de Henares. The Golden Age saw the first edition of the Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, the writings of the humanist monk Bartolomé de las Casas, and the construction El Escorial. The emergence of successive generations of outstanding artists developed a style characterized by moody chiaroscuros, spirituality, and theatrical settings.
Spanish painting, in general, is seldom displayed in Dutch museums, which makes this exhibition quite special and important for the Hermitage. “The Netherlands has never hosted such a complete display of Spanish art, whose works are hardly found in the collections of Dutch museums,” commented the organizers.
The pieces on view come from the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, which has the world’s largest collection of Iberian art outside of Spain. This show in Holland will surely result in a more thorough understanding of the significant contribution of Spanish art to universal culture.
Spanish Masters from the Hermitage: The world of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbaran, Velazquez, Murillo & Goya will be available to the public from November 28th, 2015 to May 29th, 2016. ■