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Want a Spanish Art Surprise? There’s One In San Antonio

So you think you know Spanish art? You’ve been to the Prado and the Hispanic Society, etc., etc. and you’re pretty familiar with it. Unless, of course, you are a real expert in the Spanish art, an exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art should suggest otherwise.

To cel­e­brate San An­to­nio’s found­ing 300 years ago as a north­ern ad­min­is­tra­tive out­post of New Spain, the San An­to­nio Mu­seum of Art recently opened an exhibition called “Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Painting from the Museums of Madrid.” The goal: exposed the glory of Spanish painting to residents of a city whose art mu­se­ums lack a col­lec­tion of his­tor­i­cal Span­ish art.

Katie Lu­ber, the mu­se­um’s di­rec­tor, and William Rudolph, its chief cu­ra­tor, went to Spain hoping  to bor­row art from the reign of Fer­di­nand and Is­abella all the way to 20th century mod­ernism. They wangled 34 paintings and they borrowed nine more from U.S.museums.

As I wrote in a review for The Wall Street Journal published last week:

What were they think­ing? No list that small—from de­vo­tional works, por­traits and still lifes to genre paint­ings and land­scapes—could ful­fill the am­bi­tion of that ti­tle. Yet with paint­ings by mas­ters like Goya, El Greco and Pi­casso, this re­mark­able show gives San An­to­ni­ans a strong fla­vor of Spain’s artis­tic tra­di­tions and man­ages, more­over, to show­case su­perb works by sev­eral painters who are lit­tle known any­where in the U.S.

You can read more about my thoughts on the show on the WSJ website (search for my name) or on my website, to which I link on this page.

But for me, the best part of the show was not great works from the main museums; rather, it was lesser-known works from lesser-known museums—such as the Museum of Romanticism, which owns Luis de Madrazo y Kuntz’s wonderful ‘The Young Marchioness of Roncali’ and ‘Alfonsito Cabral with a Puro’ by his father, Manuel Cabral y Aguado Bejarado.

Both are pasted here.

I’ve also pasted a few more art works from the show below by, from top to bottom, Antonio Maria Esquivel, an unknown 15th Century Hispano-Flemish artist, Juan de Peralta, Juan de Nalda, Ramon Casas I Carbo and Picasso. Wonderful, aren’t they?


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I need to get down there. I’ve been meaning to visit the McNay this summer, so I might as well see this show, too.

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