The Hermitage wears Prado
Published: March 2, 2011 (Issue # 1645)
An unprecedented itinerant exhibition from Madrid’s Prado Museum opened at the State Hermitage Museum last week, marking the year of Spain in Russia and of Russia in Spain.
The exhibition was opened by President Dmitry Medvedev and Spanish King Juan Carlos, who came to the city on an official visit to launch the year of his country in Russia.
“Our people love the culture and art of Spain and there is no doubt they’ll be delighted to expand their knowledge of it,” Medvedev said.
Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum, described the exhibition as “a historic event” for the Hermitage and said he was “very thankful that an exhibition of such high quality has arrived at the museum.”
“At this exhibition, every picture is a masterpiece,” Piotrovsky said at a press conference devoted to the opening of the exhibition Friday.
Miguel Sugasa, director of the Prado, said the museum was inspired to bring the exhibition to Russia after Medvedev visited the Prado in Madrid two years ago and expressed enthusiastic praise about the museum’s collection.
“At this exhibition, we have tried to present not only the quality but also the diversity of the [Prado’s] collection, including works by Western European and Spanish artists, and pieces from the Renaissance era,” Sugasa said.
The exhibition features more than sixty canvases from the 15th to 19th centuries by Western European artists with a focus on the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools. The artists featured include Hieronymus Bosch, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, El Greco, Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, Titian and many others.
Titian’s masterpiece “Venus and Cupid with an Organist,” which pictures a musician playing at Venus’s feet while contemplating the naked goddess, who is distracted by Cupid, is one of the works that has been brought from Madrid for the exhibition.
Some specialists consider the piece to be a straightforward erotic work, while others see its character as allegories of the senses of sight and hearing as the means for achieving knowledge of beauty and harmony.
Another canvas by Alonso Sanchez Coello depicts two girls of eight and nine years old — the much loved daughters of King Philip II of Spain. The artist painted the portraits of the Infantes in keeping with standard court portrait practices, with both of them wearing similar sumptuous clothing and wearing a detached expression.
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