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The Focus-Abengoa Foundation brings one of the greatest exhibitions of Spanish painting in the international panorama to Seville

September 28, 2005

  • The exhibition includes masterpieces by Velázquez, Caravaggio, Zurbarán, Ribera, Herrera the Elder, Alonso Cano, etc., proceeding from institutions such as the Prado Museum, the National Gallery of London, the State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, the Gemäldegalerie of Berlin, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others, as well as from individual collectors.
  • This exhibit constitutes a major effort to restore Spanish artistic heritage.

Seville, September 28. - The exhibition entitled "From Herrera to Velázquez: early Naturalism in Seville", organised by the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and co-produced by the Museo de Bellas Artes of Bilbao, will open on November 29. The exhibition will be held at the Hospital de los Venerables, the Foundation’s headquarters in Seville, and will remain open to the public until February 28, 2006. The same show will later travel to the Museo de Bellas Artes of Bilbao, where it can be visited from the middle of March to the end of May.

Under the curatorship of the Prado Museum’s Honorary Director, Alfonso Pérez Sánchez, and Professor Benito Navarrete Prieto, the exhibition has been endowed with an important thematic and didactic content. It can also boast a high standard of scientific excellence, thanks to significant contributions from project leaders who, among other accomplishments, were able to identify the true authors of various works for the first time, as well as provide a new look at early Sevillian Naturalism from a different perspective.

By means of its physical layout, the exhibition attempts to follow the path that leads from the paintings of Mannerist rhetoric, influenced by the Flemish school, to works characterised by Italian-style chiaroscuro Naturalism, a movement inspired by Caravaggio and his school. This change transpired over a period of less than thirty years and took place in the thriving, cosmopolitan Seville of the first quarter of the 17th century. At that time the city was in full artistic bloom and popular among collectors; it was a point of departure and arrival for both travellers and painters, where the contributions of Flemish painting met and mingled with Italian styles and influences – an exchange of ideas which found its ultimate artistic expression in the early work of Velázquez.


The exhibition brings together a series of key pieces in order to understand this process, such as The Adoration of the Shepherds, a pivotal work previously attributed to Velázquez, from the National Gallery of London; prominent pieces by Velázquez such as The Mulatto Servant, from the Art Institute of Chicago, also coming to Spain for the first time, as well as Head of a Young Man in Profile, on loan from the State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, and The Three Musicians, from the Gemäldegalerie of Berlin. Over 60 works by painters such as Zurbarán, Ribera, Herrera the Elder, Tristán, Alonso Cano, Guy Romano, Oracio Borgiani, Roelas, Caravaggio and his disciples, etc., complete an overview of extraordinary artistic and historical interest.

The artwork on display comes from both Spanish and international museums as well as from private collections and organisations both in Spain and abroad. Special mention must be made of the important contribution of the Archbishopric of Seville, many of whose works are now being exhibited publicly for the first time and have been restored for the occasion.


Important restoration efforts

In addition, this exhibition constitutes an enormous effort to reclaim Spain’s artistic heritage, involving the restoration of numerous paintings. The Focus-Abengoa Foundation and the Museo de Bellas Artes of Bilbao have provided the necessary economic resources for this undertaking, and have also created a Restoration Workshop in the Hospital de los Venerables in Seville. Patrimonio Nacional, the Museo de Bellas Artes of Córdoba and the Prado Museum, who has restored Caravaggio’s work Saint Jerome, located at the Montserrat Abbey, also contributed significantly to the restoration process.

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation was created in 1982 as a result of the cultural initiative begun by Abengoa in 1972 with the publication of two volumes: "Sevillian Themes" and "Iconography of Seville" . During this same period, Abengoa also began compiling documents, books and engravings related to the medieval Kingdom of Seville or Sevillian authors. This initial cultural project made Abengoa’s leaders aware of the importance of expanding beyond the essential technological activities of the company to embrace a purpose that would benefit society as a whole, and for this reason the Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla was born.


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