This exhibition examines the impact of Spanish painting on French artists, presenting some 150 paintings by masters of Spain's Golden Age—Velázquez, Murillo, Ribera, El Greco, and Zurbarán—as well as masterpieces by the nineteenth-century French artists they influenced, among them Delacroix, Courbet, Millet, Degas, and, most notably, Manet.
Napoleon's Spanish campaigns (1808–14) marked a turning point in the French perception of Spanish painting, which, up to that time, had been virtually ignored and poorly represented in the French royal collections. Yet, only two decades later, in 1838, King Louis Philippe inaugurated the Galerie Espagnole at the Louvre, placing on view his extraordinary collection of hundreds of Spanish paintings. Although this collection was sold in 1853, these paintings left an indelible impression in France and by the 1860s, the French taste for Spanish painting was perceptible at each Paris Salon. The exhibition also includes works by American artists such as Sargent, Eakins, Whistler, and Cassatt, who studied in France but learned to paint like Spaniards. At the core of the exhibition is the "Spanish" work of Édouard Manet, whose career thoroughly reveals the importance of Spanish painting by the middle of the nineteenth century.
The exhibition features major works—many of which have rarely been lent to exhibitions—from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, the Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre in Paris, and public and private collections from across Europe and North America. Among the highlights are Velázquez's Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares (ca. 1625–26, Hispanic Society of America, New York) and The Jester Pablo de Valladolid (ca. 1632–35, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid), Zurbarán's Saint Francis in Meditation (ca. 1635–40, The National Gallery, London), Ribera's The Beggar (The Clubfoot) (1642, Musée du Louvre, Paris), Murillo's The Immaculate Conception (ca. 1678, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid), and Goya's Bullfight: Suerte de vara (1824, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles).
Works by French artists include Delacroix's Saint Catalina, Copy after Alonso Cano (1824, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Béziers), Courbet's Adela Guerrero (1851, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels), Degas's Thérèse De Gas (ca. 1863, Musée d'Orsay, Paris), and Renoir's Romaine Lacaux (1864, The Cleveland Museum of Art). Of the more than thirty Manets in the exhibition are many of the artist's acclaimed "Spanish" pictures, including The Spanish Singer (The "Guitarero") (1860), Mlle V . . . in the Costume of an Espada (1862), Dead Toreador (1863–64, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), and Boy with a Sword (1861).
American artists who went to Paris to study in the nineteenth century also succumbed to the allure of Spanish art, and the exhibition includes John Singer Sargent's copies after Velázquez and El Greco as well as such iconic images as Dr. Pozzi at Home (1881, Armand Hammer Collection, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles), The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and the Metropolitan's own Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) of 1882. Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler are also represented by multiple works in the exhibition.
Accenture is the proud sponsor of the exhibition.
The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Musée d'Orsay.
An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.