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Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), Two Groups of Picadors Overrun Consecutively by a Single Bull, 1814-16. Red chalk and red-ink wash on laid paper. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett (38541). Photo by Christoph Irrgang 

DALLAS (SMU) – This summer, the Meadows Museum will present the first large-scale exhibition of drawings from the Kupferstichkabinett at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, one of the most significant collections of Spanish drawings in the world. The Spanish Gesture: Drawings from Murillo to Goya in the Hamburger Kunsthalle will open in Dallas on May 25, 2014, and will feature 86 works created by leading Spanish artists from the 16th to the 19th centuries, including Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Juan de Valdés Leal, Alonso Cano, and Francisco Goya. It will be the first exhibition outside of Germany to showcase the collection, and will provide an intimate exploration of these masters’ draftsmanship and technique, as well as a comprehensive look into the collection’s origins and history. Curated by independent art historian Dr. Jens Hoffmann-Samland, The Spanish Gesture is part of the Meadows’ ongoing initiative to further enhance its role as a leading center for research and scholarship on Spanish art, and will be on view in Dallas from May 25 through August 31, 2014. The exhibition will subsequently travel to the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, where it will be on view from October 28, 2014 through February 8, 2015.

In its entirety, the collection comprises 210 drawings of Spanish origin. Most of the drawings entered the Hamburger Kunsthalle collection in 1891, when the institution’s first director, Alfred Lichtwark, acquired the works. Lichtwark had viewed the collection while on display in Berlin and, impressed by its dynamism and breadth, immediately secured the necessary funds and purchased the collection from then-owner Bernard Quaritch, a London-based art collector and antiques dealer. Yet the collection soon faded from public memory, only resurfacing sporadically for small in-house exhibitions in 1931, 1966, and 2005. 

“The Spanish Gesture will provide a unique opportunity to engage with rare and exquisite drawings that complement the works in the Meadows Museum collection,” said Mark A. Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum. “We are excited to partner with the Hamburger Kunsthalle, and to continue to strengthen our long-standing relationship with the Prado, in sharing these artists’ creative processes with the public in an intimate and unprecedented way. This exhibition will bring us closer to developing comprehensive scholarship of Spanish drawings worldwide, and will help further the appreciation and understanding of Spanish drawings as a distinctive and expressive artistic genre.” 

The core of the works in the collection were produced and assembled in the mid-17th century, in and around the Academia de Murillo, established by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Francisco Herrera the Younger, Juan de Valdes Leal, and Cornelis Schut, among others, in Seville. Some highlights of the exhibition include Murillo’s Assumption of the Virgin (c. 1665), Herrera the Younger’s Nobleman in a Landscape (c. 1660), Valdés Leal’s Head of St. John the Baptist (1654-55), and Alonso Cano’s Sketch for the Altar of St. Catherine. Additionally, the collection holds the largest group of half-length holy figures (c. 1640-50), purported to represent the twelve apostles, by Francisco Herrera the Elder. The Spanish Gesture will be the first exhibition in which all twelve figures are displayed concurrently. Together, these works will illustrate the artistic vision, processes, and influences of these renowned masters, and will provide new insight into the dynamic exchange that pervaded the Spanish creative community in the 17th century. 

The Spanish Gesture will also feature a number of drawings by Francisco Goya, and the majority of Goya’s drawings after the works of Diego Velázquez, many of which were used for etchings. The works Goya emulated depict a range of subject matter, including full-length portraits of members of the Spanish royal family and their court, and one of Velázquez’s most important early works, the Waterseller of Seville. Goya’s drawings will encourage viewers to consider the significant impact of Velázquez’s work anew, as well as reveal Goya’s own artistic influences and processes. The exhibition will also feature drawings related to Goya’s most famous etching series, “Los Caprichos” and “La Tauromaquia.” 

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Bartolom Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), "The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine," 1655. Red chalk over traces of black chalk. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett (38592). Photo by Christoph Irrgang

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Juan de Valdés Leal (1622-1690), The Vision of St. Antony, c. 1665. Black and red crayon on light gray Vergé paper. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett (38627). Photo by Christoph Irrgang.