Meadows Museum acquires rare Spanish portrait of American collector

Portrait of Richard Worsam Meade by Vicente Lopez y Portana, 1815, courtesy of SMU's Meadows MuseumA rare portrait of influential American merchant and naval agent Richard Worsam Meade – the first major collector of Spanish art in the U.S. – has been put on display to the public in its new home at SMU’s Meadows Museum.

On May 10, 2011, the museum unveiled the 1815 oil-on-canvas masterwork by Vicente López, one of the most significant painters of the Spanish Enlightenment. Acquired with the support of six donors from the Dallas community, the unpublished painting will add depth to the museum’s holdings of work by this celebrated court painter – as well as provide insight into a legendary American family.

Meade was the son of the Philadelphia Revolutionary George Meade, and his son, George Gordon Meade – better known as General Meade – went on to defeat Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg. Around 1800, Richard Worsam Meade moved his export business to the port city of Cádiz, Spain, where he began to collect paintings as currency for debts. It was there that Meade developed one of the most outstanding private collections of Spanish art, including paintings by Titian, Correggio, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck and Velázquez, and became the first American collector known to have owned a painting by Murillo.

“Meade could in many ways be considered the earliest predecessor of our museum’s founder, Algur H. Meadows,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “Both men were influential American entrepreneurs who, in the course of their business abroad in Spain, developed a passion for the country’s art, ultimately creating a new audience for it back home.

“This exceptional painting will be the first portrait of an American painted by a Spanish painter to enter our collection, and it is fitting that the subject is someone who shares a legacy with our founding patron.”

The painting will be included in the upcoming exhibition Meadows Collects: Ten Years, Ten Works, which will open in Fall 2011. The exhibition will feature the 10 most significant works the Meadows has acquired over the past decade, and will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their current home, which was funded by The Meadows Foundation.

The painting was purchased through funds provided by Linda P. and William A. Custard; Jack and Gloria Hammack; Richard and Gwen S. Irwin; Natalie H. and George T. Lee, Jr.; Mildred M. Oppenheimer; and Catherine B. Taylor. These gifts are eligible for a $5 million matching challenge grant by The Meadows Foundation for the acquisition of Spanish art to enhance the Museum’s permanent collection.

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Meadows Museum hosts work by pioneering abstract expressionist Esteban Vicente

'Labels (1956) by Esteban VicenteThe groundbreaking work of Spanish-born American artist Esteban Vicente is the focus of the latest major exhibition in SMU’s Meadows Museum. Some 80 collages and polychrome sculptures are featured in Concrete Improvisations: Collages and Sculpture by Esteban Vicente, which runs through July 31, 2011.

The objects included in the exhibition span 50 years of Vicente’s long career and include such works as Labels (1956, right), which precedes Warhol’s famous appropriation of the Campbell’s soup logo.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, bilingual catalogue, Concrete Improvisations: Collages and Sculpture, Esteban Vicente.

Vicente was a member of the first generation of New York Abstract Expressionists and a significant 20th-century artist and teacher. He participated in Meyer Schapiro and Clement Greenberg’s landmark exhibition Talent 1950 and also helped to organize the seminal 9th Street Show.

One of the founding members of the New York Studio School, Vicente also taught at universities throughout the United States. His students included leading artists Chuck Close and Brice Marden.

The Meadows exhibition marks the first time Vicente’s collages and sculptures have been paired together in a major exhibition. The collages, which he first began producing in 1949, provide an insightful connection when viewed alongside works on paper created by some of his contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

Concrete Improvisations will expose audiences to an artist who was an integral part of the Abstract Expressionist movement, but who is not well known to the public,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “As a museum with a core commitment to education, we are thrilled to showcase the pioneering work of an artist noted for his lifelong dedication to teaching.”

Vicente also created small-scale sculptures that he referred to as “toys” or divertimientos, and which were typically assembled from leftover bits of wood and scrap material found in his studio. Not initially intended for public display, the sculptures included in the exhibition reveal a lighthearted side of the artist and will be interspersed with his collages.

In conjunction with Concrete Improvisations, the Meadows Museum will present Esteban Vicente in America: Collage, Color and Somewhere in Between, which weaves together works by a number of Vicente’s contemporary colleagues with whom he shared a clear artistic affinity – including Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko. A fully illustrated catalogue has been produced by the Meadows Museum for this exhibition.

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Lost Vatican treasures make their first U.S. appearance at SMU’s Meadows Museum

Image from the Votive Missal of Urban VIII, 1635The only remaining set of codices from the Sacristy of the Sistine Chapel will make their first visit to the United States for an exhibition in SMU’s Meadows Museum. The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel: An Epic Journey from Rome to Toledo opened Jan. 23 and continues through April 23.

Meadows Museum will host a faculty/staff reception celebrating the exhibition in early February. Watch your campus e-mail for a date and time.

Featuring 40 codices ranging in date from the 11th to the 18th centuries, the collection represents some of the finest illuminations ever discovered, and follows the trajectory of an exciting and significant time at the Vatican and Sistine Chapel.

The codices were looted from the Vatican by Napoleon’s armies and then rescued by the dynamic Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Francesco Antonio José de Lorenzana y Buitrón, who gave them to the Biblioteca Capitular de Toledo for safekeeping.

For 200 years the codices all but disappeared from history, until the late 1990s when scholar Elena DeLaurentiis saw a photograph of the codices with the Barberini seal and traced their location to the Cathedral of Toledo. Since their discovery scholars have been cataloguing and studying the manuscripts, piecing together one of the most valuable collections of liturgical manuscripts in the world.

frieze with Cardinalitial Coat of Arms of Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini“Many of the codices are in perfect condition, and they have provided unprecedented insight into one of the most vibrant historical time periods at the Vatican,” says Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “This is a very exciting discovery, and allows us to reconstruct one of the most important and valued pieces of papal heritage.”

The exhibition marks the first time that these ancient manuscripts will be on display in the United States. Curated by Dr. De Laurentiis and fellow Italian scholar Emilia Anna Talamo, the exhibition will feature a broad range of liturgical writings used by the Catholic Church, including benedictionals, blessings, breviaries, epistolaries, evangelistaries, missals and preparations for mass.

Though the manuscripts were undiscovered for years, the illustrations remain in pristine condition. They demonstrate some of the best preserved examples of the complex decorative schemes executed and influenced by master illuminators of the papal scriptorium, such as the French illuminator Vincent Raymond and the Italian illuminator Apollonio de’ Bonfratelli.

Notable among the rediscovered manuscripts is the “Missal with Christmas Mass of Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini,” which dates to between 1503 and 1509 and is regarded as one of the richest and most exquisite codices from the Sistine Sacristy Collection.

An exhibition catalogue will provide profiles of the codices, as well as scholarly essays by the curators. The catalogue is being prepared by the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica and will be published in English, Spanish and Italian.

The exhibition, which first opened at the National Library in Madrid in October 2010, is organized through partnerships with the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Biblioteca de Castilla-La Mancha, the Catedral de Toledo, and the Palacio Arzobispal de Toledo. It has been funded by a gift from The Meadows Foundation.

Above right, an image from the Votive Missal of Urban VIII, 1635. Toledo, Biblioteca Pública of Estando de Toledo – Biblioteca Capitular de Toledo.

Above left, frieze with Cardinalitial Coat of Arms of Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini and Initial T (Te igitur) with the Pietá, 1503-07. Folio 66r of the “Missal with the Mass of Christmas of Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini.”

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Meadows, Prado open historic partnership with new exhibitions

'Pentecost' by El GrecoSMU’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, 2010and 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.”

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Meadows Museum, Prado announce historic partnership

'Pentecost' by El GrecoSMU’s Meadows Museum and the Prado Museum announced the launch of a groundbreaking three-year partnership, marking the first such international program for Spain’s national museum, on June 11 in Madrid.

The multifaceted collaboration includes the loan of major paintings from the Prado, interdisciplinary research at SMU, an unprecedented internship exchange between the two museums, and a range of public programs. The Meadows is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain.

The Prado and the Meadows will organize exhibitions focused around pivotal masterpieces on loan from the Prado that will explore the broader cultural, political, religious, and historical contexts for the works. El Greco’s monumental painting Pentecost (right) will be the first of three loans to be presented in Dallas. Pentecost will be on display from Sept. 12, 2010 through Feb. 1, 2011.

Next year, the Prado will lend Jusepe de Ribera’s Mary Magdalene, followed by Diego Velazquez’s full-length portrait of Philip IV in 2012. The Meadows Museum will produce a bilingual publication presenting new research across multiple subject areas timed to the installation of each loan, and will organize a series of symposia and educational programming with national and international scholars.

“After frequent visits to Madrid in the 1950s, museum founder Algur H. Meadows had a vision to establish a ‘Prado on the Prairie,’ and built an incredible collection of Spanish art that forms the foundation of the museum today,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “This new partnership is another step in realizing his aspiration.”

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Meadows to celebrate International Museum Day May 18

'Charles IV' by Francisco de GoyaSMU’s Meadows Museum will offer free admission, membership and merchandise discounts, and other benefits from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18 to celebrate the Association of Art Museum Directors’ International Museum Day 2010.

The annual celebration focuses attention on the important roles art museums serve in their communities, further showcase their remarkable collections, and increase opportunities for audiences to engage with the many educational programs art museums offer.

The Meadows will provide free admission to its current exhibition – Royal Splendor in the Enlightenment: Charles IV of Spain, Patron and Collector – as well as to its permanent collection of Spanish art. Public tours of the permanent collection will be offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and tours of Royal Splendor at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

All gift shop purchases will be 10 percent off that day, and museum memberships will be available at a 20 percent discount.

“We are happy to join museums throughout North America and the rest of the world to celebrate International Museum Day,” says Mark Roglán, Meadows Museum director. “This is a wonderful opportunity to not only showcase our own museum but to support the global efforts of art museums to reach out to their communities with cultural and educational offerings.”

AAMD member museums – located across the United States, Canada and Mexico – include smaller regional museums as well as large international institutions. International Museum Day is organized around the world by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which established the day in 1977.

Find more information about International Museum Day at the International Council of Museums homepage.

(Above, Francisco de Goya, Carlos IV, 1789, oil on canvas. Madrid, Royal Academy of History.)

Meadows Museum acquires monumental Plensa sculpture

'Sho' by Jaume PlensaSMU’s Meadows Museum has acquired Sho, a monumental sculpture by contemporary Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.

Completed in 2007, the work represents a female head and is formed by white-painted stainless steel openwork mesh. It stands approximately 13 feet tall and 10 feet wide (157-1/2 x 157-1/2 x 118-1/8 inches) and weighs 660 pounds.

The acquisition from the Richard Gray Gallery was made possible with the support of The Pollock Foundation, the Family of Mr. and Mrs. Richard R. Pollock, and the Family of Mr. Lawrence S. Pollock, III, in honor of Mrs. Shirley Pollock. The funds will be matched with a 1:1 challenge grant for museum acquisitions from The Meadows Foundation.

Sho marks the most important acquisition of a work by a living artist into the Meadows collection since the commissioning of Calatrava’s Wave in 2001,” says Mark Roglán, museum director. “Plensa is among the most dynamic and talented artistic minds in Spain today, and we are honored to have him represented at the Meadows with such a unique and monumental sculpture. This one-of-a-kind masterpiece will welcome visitors to the museum from its prominent position in the center of our new entrance plaza, due to open this fall. The acquisition, made possible by the Pollocks and The Meadows Foundation, further represents a beautiful way to honor in perpetuity the memory of the late Shirley Pollock, who was such a great friend of this institution.”

Jaume PlensaA native of Barcelona, Plensa (right) is known for his monumental figural sculptures that often incorporate film, light, letters and unusual materials in order to present familiar objects (such as the human body) in unfamiliar ways. One of his most notable works is Crown Fountain (2000-04) in Chicago’s Millennium Park, arguably one of the most successful public art projects of the past decade. His works are also found in the collections of Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others.

Sho is a portrait of a young Chinese girl whom the artist met in Barcelona, where his studio is located. It was first exhibited at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) in Valencia, Spain, in winter 2007. The work then traveled to Chicago, where it was exhibited along the riverfront in the heart of downtown; and to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where it was included in a major exhibition of the artist’s latest work at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park through early January 2009.

The Museum will present a public lecture about Plensa by art historian and critic Barbara Rose on Nov. 12; additional public programming is planned throughout the year.

Sho will go on permanent display on the museum’s newly renovated entry plaza as part of the exhibition “Face and Form: Modern and Contemporary Sculpture in the Meadows Collection,” opening Oct. 7.

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Meadows Museum brings together Diego Rivera’s Cubist works

'Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg' by Diego RiveraMexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) spent several critical years early in his career in Paris, during World War I, where he immersed himself in literary and art circles and enthusiastically embraced the Cubist movement. While his Cubist works experimented with a range of genres, including landscape and still life, Rivera showed a particular affinity for portraiture, and he created empathetic and moving portrayals of some of the era’s most important figures.

Thirty-one of these works are brought together for the first time in an exclusive exhibition at SMU’s Meadows Museum. Diego Rivera: The Cubist Portraits, 1913-1917 will run June 21-Sept. 20, 2009 and is funded by The Wachovia Foundation and The Meadows Foundation.

“We are thrilled to have organized this exhibition, which will introduce to Dallas a fascinating aspect of one of Mexico’s greatest artists,” says Mark Roglán, Meadows Museum director. “Through the quality of the paintings, complexity of the drawings, and his always evolving technique, this exhibition presents a unique opportunity for our visitors to learn about and appreciate both Rivera’s portraits and Cubism at its best.”

'Dos Mujeres' by Diego RiveraThe exhibition was inspired by a key piece in the Meadows Museum’s permanent collection, Rivera’s Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg (top right). It is one of only 4 Cubist portraits by Rivera in a public American collection. The additional 22 paintings and 8 preparatory sketches and book illustrations are from museums and private collections in the United States and other countries, and include several works that will be exhibited publicly for the first time.

A complementary exhibition in the museum’s first-floor galleries, Mexican Art at the Meadows, will showcase lithographs by Rivera and other Mexican artists in the Meadows Museum’s permanent collection. Included will be Rivera’s portrait of his wife, Frida Kahlo, titled Seated Nude with Raised Arms, and scenes of rural and peasant life in Mexico.

In addition, the Museum will host several public programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including drop-in art classes, family events, and public lectures by Roglán, SMU Professor Emeritus of History Luís Martín, and Paloma Alarcó, curator of modern paintings at the Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

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Top right: Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg, 1915, oil on canvas. Meadows Museum, Algur H. Meadows Collection. Photography by Michael Bodycomb.

Bottom right: Dos mujeres, 1914, oil on canvas. Arkansas Arts Center Foundation, Little Rock, Arkansas. © 2008 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust.

Faculty in the News: Feb. 9, 2009

Etruscan alabaster urnGreg Warden, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, provided expertise for an Associated Press story on the new exhibition of Etruscan treasures at SMU’s Meadows Museum. The story ran in USA Today Feb. 4, 2009.

Mark Roglán, Meadows Museum Director, discussed the museum’s “reinvention” for a feature article in D Magazine, February 2009.

Alan Bromberg, Dedman School of Law, was one of 5 law professors who filed an amicus brief on behalf of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban concerning a recent insider-trading complaint filed by the Securities Exchange Commission. The brief was discussed in The Wall Street Journal Feb. 4, 2009.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about a recent Gallup poll that shows Texas in the nation’s political middle with The Austin American-Statesman Feb. 1, 2009.

Mike Davis, Finance, Cox School of Business, discussed the need for the stimulus package now before Congress with The San Francisco Chronicle Feb. 1, 2009.

Faculty in the News: Sept. 5, 2008

Bruce Bullock, Maguire Energy Institute, discussed the market implications of ConocoPhillips’ recent sale of its remaining gas stations with The Houston Chronicle Aug. 27, 2008.

Ron Moss, Admissions, talked about why the SAT score is still a good indicator of potential success in college in The Dallas Morning News Aug. 27, 2008.

Steve Kardell, Law, talked about how he uses Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory requirements to predict the next wave of corporate scandals with The Dallas Morning News Aug. 27, 2008.

Bonnie Wheeler, English/Medieval Studies, and Mark Roglán, Meadows Museum, were featured in the article “Encountering the Middle Ages: Spain and the Meadows Museum” in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) June 13, 2008.