On Friday, November 27, 2015, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands opened the exhibition, Spaanse Meesters uit de Hermitage: De Wereld van El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya (Spanish Masters from the Hermitage: The World of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya), at the Hermitage Amsterdam in Amsterdam.
The exhibition displays over sixty paintings including The Apostles Peter and Paul by El Greco, Velázquez’s Portrait of the Count Duke of Olivares, Murillo’s Immaculate Conception, and Goya’s Portrait of the Actress Antonia Zárate.
According to a press release the exhibition tells the story of the rise and glory of Spanish art in the Golden Age which began in the late sixteenth century:
“…and flourished throughout the seventeenth century, coinciding with the Dutch Golden Age. While the Netherlands was revolting against Spanish rule, Spain was developing its own artistic signature. Philip II, an absolute monarch in a society dominated by the Catholic Church, commissioned the construction of El Escorial in 1563. The enormous palace and monastery complex near Madrid was decorated by great Spanish and Italian masters. Spain’s unimaginable wealth, amassed largely during the country’s period of colonial gold fever – Spain called itself ‘the Empire on which the sun never sets’ – brought painters abundant commissions for the king, churches and private collectors. Spanish art flourished.
The works of the great Spanish painters are exceptional for their exquisite convergence of the spiritual and the theatrical. Influenced by the Italians, painters like El Greco, Ribera and Zurbarán developed a singular Spanish style marked by strong contrasts of light and dark. Their works exude the temperament and pride of the Iberian Peninsula. Murillo and in particular Velázquez, a trendsetter, added their own signature to that style and reached new heights. Goya, an equally awe-inspiring talent, followed in their footsteps with his confrontational realism. Goya is also famous for his penetrating graphic cycles and a number of his dramatic etchings are featured in the exhibition, including pieces from Los Desastres de la Guerra, depicting the horrors of the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. The artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries continued the tradition, rendering the strong contrasts in society in works that reflect both the sun-drenched Spanish culture and the dark sides of history…”
Spaanse Meesters uit de Hermitage: De Wereld van El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya will be open to the public beginning on November 28, 2015 – May 29, 2016 at the Hermitage Amsterdam.
Photo courtesy of RVD/HKH