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Luis Méndez Rodríguez awarded the Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez Research Prize for his research work on 16th century Seville and the German traveller Jerónimo Köler

December 9, 2010

  • The work by Méndez Rodríguez, entitled “Sevilla 1533. La aventura de Jerónimo Köler”, offers an insight into Sevillian society in the 16th century through the eyes of the German traveller.

Seville, 9 December 2010. Doctor Luis Méndez Rodríguez has been awarded the Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez International Research Prize, during its second edition, for his research work entitled Sevilla 1533. La aventura de Jerónimo Köler (Seville 1533. The Adventure of Jerónimo Köler). The prize is worth 24,000 Euros.

The jury for this edition of the prize, chaired by Anabel Morillo León, Director General of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, was made up of the specialists Aurora Egido Martínez, professor of language and literature at the University of Zaragoza; Benito Navarrete Prieto, lecturer at the University of Alcalá de Henares and scientific adviser to the Diego Velázquez Research Centre; Gridley McKim-Smith, lecturer in the Department of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College; Jesús Urrea Fernández, lecturer at the University of Valladolid; Manuela Mena Marqués, curator of the Prado Museum; and Peter Cherry, lecturer in art history at Trinity College Dublin.

The jury decided to award the Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez International Prize to the work Sevilla 1533. La aventura de Jerónimo Köler, by Doctor Luis Méndez Rodríguez, “for the interest and originality of the subject matter, its association with the city of Seville and its European and American influences”. The written and illustrated tale of the German traveller, Jerónimo Köler, who journeyed through part of Europe to Seville from where he set sail for America, profiles an exceptional character, through whom we see the history, culture and society of Seville set against a backdrop of Europe at that time. Köler’s work, a personal portrait of the bustling and cosmopolitan life of the city, has an added dimension and interest thanks to the illustrations that accompany it. His descriptions, and those of other members of his family, enrich the genre of travel books, offering a curious panorama of art and a history of the attitudes of the Renaissance period, which would influence the subsequent period when Velázquez lived.

Anabel Morillo, Director General of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, said, "This international prize aims to promote the study and research of Spanish art history in the Modern Age in order to further our knowledge about the figure of Velázquez and the Seville of his time, in the interest of better understanding this era from the perspectives of art, literature, culture and heritage”.

Luis Méndez Rodríguez is a Doctor from the University of Seville. He currently works as senior lecturer in the Department of Art History at the University of Seville, where he carried out a doctorate thesis on Velázquez and the culture of humanism in Seville. He completed his training at prestigious institutions in Italy and England, such as the Warburg Institute and he is the author of various works on the art and culture of the 17th century and other eras. He has collaborated in various exhibitions and has directed research projects on Seville’s Golden Age, and he also specialises in the study of cultural heritage.

The Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez International Research Prize aims to promote the study and research of Spanish art history in the Modern Age in order to enrich our knowledge of the city of Seville and of Velázquez. The award is designed to keep the memory of Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez alive, who died in August last year and was an exemplary researcher and maestro who specialised in Italian and Spanish painting, and studies about Velázquez and the art of his era. He also passionately and selflessly collaborated with the Focus-Abengoa Foundation through numerous exhibitions, such as “Tres siglos de dibujo sevillano” (Three centuries of Sevillian drawing), “Pintura española recuperada por el coleccionismo privado” (Spanish painting recovered through private collecting), or “De Herrera a Velázquez” (From Herrera to Velázquez), among others, ensuring their success. Furthermore, Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez’s work as an artistic adviser to the Focus-Abengoa Foundation was decisive in the acquisition of the Santa Rufina by Velázquez and the establishment of the Diego Velázquez Research Centre.

The efficient and impartial cultural work that Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez carried out was also evident during his time as Director of the Prado Museum. His management role was instrumental and he left his hallmark on all the renovation and modernisation work that he undertook with resolve and energy, including the new layout of the rooms, the exhibition policy and the launch of the education office. During his time, the Prado hosted the most comprehensive scientific exhibitions ever seen at the museum, such as the Velázquez retrospective (1990), which changed the international image of the institution around the world.

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation was created in 1982 as a result of the cultural work begun in 1972 by Abengoa with the publication of the works Temas Sevillanos (Themes of Seville) and Iconografía de Sevilla (Iconography of Seville). A collection of documents, books and engravings on the Kingdom of Seville and by Sevillian authors was created during the same period. This initial cultural work showed Abengoa’s directors the importance of the company’s involvement in activities that directly benefit society, beyond its core technology-based work, and this led to the creation of the Seville Cultural Fund Foundation. The Hospital de los Venerables, a 17th century monument and the headquarters of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation in Seville, has oused the Diego Velázquez Research Centre, a leading institution for studying and disseminating the Baroque era and the Sevillian period of this universally renowned artist, since the acquisition of Velázquez’s Santa Rufina by the Foundation in 2007.

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