Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish, 1591-1652), Mary Magdalene, 1641. Oil on canvas. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P1103. Image © Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

DALLAS, TX.- Beginning September 18, Giusepe de Ribera’s monumental portrait of Mary Magdalene from the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado will be on view at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University, home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The exhibition, “Ribera: Mary Magdalene in a New Context,” which runs through January 15, 2012, marks the second year of the museum’s unprecedented international partnership with the Prado and will include other notable works by Ribera from distinguished international museums and private collections, as well as works by the artist and his followers from the Meadows’ permanent collection. Ribera: Mary Magdalene in a New Context is part of the museum’s multifaceted three-year partnership with the Prado, a collaboration that includes the organization of groundbreaking focused exhibitions centered on pivotal masterpieces on loan from the Prado, scholarly texts that will advance the understanding of Spanish art, and an internship exchange between the two institutions. Following the 2010 presentation of El Greco’s Pentecost, the Ribera exhibition examines a lesser-known facet of the artist’s career. Curated by Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, associate director of collections and research at the Prado, the exhibition will examine Ribera’s representation of Mary Magdalene and other saintly females as a departure from his traditional style. This initiative is accompanied by a bilingual publication published by the Meadows Museum in collaboration with the Museo Nacional del Prado, comprising essays by Dr. Finaldi, Dr. Craig Felton (Smith College), Dr. María Cruz de Carlos Varona (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Dr. Jessica A. Boon (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The exhibition’s inauguration will feature a symposium on September 16, 2011, with lectures by Dr. Finaldi, Dr. Felton, and Dr. Helen Hills, professor of art history at York University, England.

“This partnership, now in its second year, builds on museum founder Algur H. Meadows’ vision to establish a ‘Prado on the Prairie’,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “With this exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to see Ribera’s masterpiece in a new light. The painting is in dialogue with the incredible collection of Spanish art that Meadows helped build, and the university’s scholars will examine the work from a variety of perspectives, deepening understanding of its cultural, social, and religious contexts.”

Mary Magdalene
Though Ribera is known for his dark and startling works, often depicting scenes of horror, his representation of the Magdalene is tender, emphasizing the beauty and elegance of his subject. The Magdalene was a central devotional figure in seventeenth-century Italy and Spain, and was a frequent subject for paintings of the time. Ribera painted the Magdalene several times, consistently portraying her as a sympathetic and sensitive figure. Ribera’s Magdalene is accompanied by three additional loans: Assumption of the Magdalene (1636) from the Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid; Saint Mary of Egypt in Ecstasy (c. 1640) from the Colección Pérez Simón in Mexico City; and Saint Mary of Egypt (1651) from the Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri in Naples, Italy.

International Fellowship
This fall, the two museums will also initiate The Kress/Meadows/Prado Curatorial Fellowship, an annual exchange with one appointment made by each institution. This will be the first curatorial internship ever to be mounted by the Prado with a foreign institution. Sponsored jointly by the Meadows Museum, the Prado and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York, the fellowships will provide graduate students with the opportunity to gain professional and international experience, and to work closely with the curatorial staff at each institution. The Meadows Museum has selected Iraida Rodriguez-Negrón, a Ph.D. candidate at New York University, as the first recipient of this fellowship; she will spend approximately ten months at the Meadows, followed by six weeks at the Prado.

This Ribera exhibition and project have been organized by the Meadows Museum and the Museo Nacional del Prado, and are funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.