SMU’s Meadows Museum will open a historic partnership with the Prado Museum of Madrid on Sept. 12 with the first of three annual loans from the Prado – El Greco’s masterpiece Pentecost (right, c. 1600).
The presentation of the painting will coincide with the release of a book that includes new research about El Greco and the socio-cultural atmosphere of his time.
Pentecost will serve as a focal point for the reimagining of the museum’s installation of its permanent collection, acting as a gateway between the old masters and the artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
In conjunction with this presentation, the Meadows has organized two companion exhibitions that explore the history of Spanish art and its contemporary influence. Together, the exhibitions and publications offer a renewed look at one of Spain’s greatest masters.
Painted between 1596 and 1600, Pentecost is believed to have been part of a massive altarpiece created for the Colegio de Doña María de Aragón, an Augustinian seminary in Madrid. Featuring graceful, elongated figures in muted blues and grays, the style is characteristic of El Greco, though the subject matter is unique in his oeuvre, with the exception of one other piece believed to have been painted by his workshop. The loan will join El Greco’s Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation, as well as masterpieces by other artists of the Golden Age, including Velázquez, Goya and Murillo in the Meadows’ permanent collection.
In conjunction with the installation of Pentecost, the Meadows will present two new exhibitions, Spanish Muse: A Contemporary Response – on view Sept. 12-Dec. 12, 2010 – and Sultans and Saints: Spain’s Confluence of Cultures, on view Sept. 12, 2010-Jan. 23, 2011.
Spanish Muse will explore the lasting influence of the Spanish masters on contemporary artists, and will also commemorate the Meadows’ 45th anniversary. Sultans and Saints will look at the history of Spanish art through a variety of media, including sculpture, manuscripts and paintings.
The publication of El Greco’s Pentecost in a New Context will shed new light on both the artist and the painting, by looking at El Greco and Pentecost through the lens of the social, political, and religious environment in which El Greco was working. The essays included in the publication explore El Greco’s clientele and the commissioning of Pentecost for the altarpiece, and examine the way the painting was perceived and understood in medieval Spain.
“Algur Meadows, the founder of the Museum, was a great admirer of El Greco, and considered his works to be crucial to a collection of Spanish art,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “This is a very important moment for us, as the loan of this painting brings us one step closer to fulfilling Meadows’ vision of a Prado on the Prairie.”