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The international symposium "Saint Rufina. Velázquez: From devotional works to court scenes" reinforces the openness of the Diego Velázquez Research Centre

March 10, 2008

  • Today’s lectures have revolved around the debates on the authorship of  "Saint Rufina"

Seville, 10th March 2008.- Today the Diego Velázquez Research Centre opened the international symposium entitled “Saint Rufina. Velázquez: From devotional works to court scenes”, which will last until Wednesday, 12th March in Seville’s Hospital de los Venerables, headquarters of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation.

The opening event was presided over by Anabel Morillo León, general manager of the foundation, and by Benito Navarrete, professor at the University of Alcalá de Henares. The latter stressed the centre’s role as an international forum where all the different methodological approaches have their place. Benito Navarrete, the centre’s scientific advisor, explained that “all the different schools of history are represented in this international symposium, including formalism, culturalism, iconology and historicism. We encourage a plural perspective that also includes conservation and restoration, the value and impact of the work of art in the market, techniques, the perspective of the cultural manager and writer, and the importance of the world of journalism”. In short, “a venue open to all points of view”.

In this sense, Anabel Morillo has explained that “despite the clear headway already made, art historical research is still surprisingly scant among us, as Elena Vozmediano explained in a recent critical review on the studies on Velázquez”. For this reason, according to the general manager of the Foundation, “it is increasingly frequent and common to create study and research centres that, like the Diego Velázquez Centre, aspire to delve further into a wide variety of facets – technical, historical, artistic, social, economic, etc.” These facets are interrelated in any work of art, “once the certainty of the task that Professor Pérez Sánchez would call the ‘expert eye’ is over, which implies prior documentary research of the sources, a comparative study of the works within their setting and direct knowledge of these works.”

This first day of the symposium has included lectures by Carmen Garrido, head of the technical office of the Museo del Prado; Zahira Véliz from Courtauld Institute of London; Enrique Valdivieso and Alfonso Pleguezuelo from the University of Seville; and Leticia de Frutos from the Ministry of Culture’s Deputy Directorate-General of State Museums. All five speakers centred their talks on the debates as to the authorship of "Saint Rufina" and technical issues arising from the restoration of the work, as well as iconographic matters.

The lectures scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, include ones by Karin Hellwig from the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich; Gabriele Finaldi from the Museo del Prado; Fernando Marías from the Autonomous University of Madrid; and James Macdonald from Sotheby’s. All of these speakers, along with nine other experts, will analyse Velázquez’s oeuvre and its relationship with the painting genres, as well as the different works by this Sevillian painter that are lost around Spain.

The symposium is being held parallel with an exhibition of the same name that will remain in the main exhibition hall at the Focus-Abengoa headquarters until 4th May. In it, visitors may view works such as Velázquez’s Saint Rufina, as well as three other major paintings by this artist, including "The Imposition of the Chasuble on Saint Ildefonso", "Sibila" and "The Infanta Maria of Austria, Queen of Hungary".

Anabel Morillo believes that “the exhibition and symposium are a whole which serves as the prologue to the opening of the permanent exhibition hall in May which will be housed in the Diego Velázquez Centre."

The goal of the Diego Velázquez Research Centre is to disseminate studies about the works by this Sevillian painter and analyse the background of his professional career in Seville. In this sense, the objective is clear: to contribute to inculcate in Sevillians the cultural values of one the peak periods in the life of this city, a time when Andalusia was a beacon for all of Europe.

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