Thirteen paintings by the Spanish Golden Age master Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) visit the United States for the first time in an itinerant exhibition that is being held today at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, known by the art galleries sector as the “Little Prado from Texas”.
These life-sized portraits, representing the biblical patriarch Jacob and his twelve children, are a visual account of Jacob’s blessings on each of his sons from the deathbed, who predicted his fate and that of his tribes.
The series will be on display until early January in the “Little Texas Meadow,” a museum run by South Methodist University (SMU) and founded in 1965 by oil company Algur Meadows (1899-1978) , a fan of Spanish art and culture.
Today, the Meadows houses one of the most extensive and extensive Spanish art collections outside Spain, a collection spanning from the tenth to the twenty-first century, including medieval objects, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, and important paintings by masters of the Golden Age and modern.
“This is a unique opportunity to see first hand and have a very personal experience with one of the masterpieces of Zurbarán, one of the great Spanish painters of the seventeenth century,” said Mark Roglán, director of the Texan museum, recognized in the country for its profuse knowledge of Spanish art.
The canvases, created in the 1640s, now decorate the former headquarters of the bishopric of Durham (England, United Kingdom) for more than 250 years as a symbol of progress in relations between the Christian and Jewish communities of British countries.
However, a restoration project at this venue, Auckland Castle, led the paintings to be exhibited in Dallas until January, then went to the Frick Collection in New York until May.
“We are delighted to be able to bring to Dallas these works of Spanish painting of the Golden Age while an important restoration is carried out in the castle of Auckland and to give visitors the opportunity to see the series ‘Jacob and his twelve children’ , contextualized in the history and aesthetic tradition of Spanish art, “added Roglán.
According to the museum, the exhibition will show results of the first technical analysis of the canvases, which took place last year in the conservation department of the Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth and revealed new data on materials and the creative process of the artist, as well as on the printed sources that inspired the figures of Zurbarán.
The conservation director of the Kimbell Museum, Claire Barry, pointed out in the same document that in their investigation they found that Zurbarán himself participated “actively” in the creation of the works, instead of just delegating their realization to his workshop, as it was habitual.
“These works now speak even more clearly about their creativity and ingenuity as an artist, from the way they transmitted the tactile qualities of the figures’ clothes to the expressiveness of character and pose of each character,” concluded the researcher .
Francisco de Zurbarán, born in Badajoz (Spain) in 1598, was one of the great painters of the Spanish Golden Age and especially emphasized in religious painting, a field in which he is considered representative of the Counter-Reformation.
According to his biographical works, he was a friend of the Baroque painter Diego Velázquez, one of the greatest exponents of Spanish painting and considered a master of universal painting.