Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery
March 9 through May 30, 2010
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Sevillian artist Murillo was prized above all for his genre paintings of street urchins and children; accordingly, The Flower Girl — Spring was one of the most admired works in Dulwich’s collection. The dark-haired adolescent with a rose tucked in her headdress is shown in exotic clothes — a turban and a brown shawl with silver embroidery, possibly from the Americas. She offers pink and white roses to the viewer — a gesture that has been interpreted to suggest that it is not only roses that the girl is selling.
In fact, this painting was part of a set of seasonal allegories that Murillo made for one of his major patrons and friends, Don Justino de Neve (1625–1685), canon of Seville Cathedral. It was paired in de Neve’s collection with a painting of a young man holding a basket of fruits and vegetables, representing Summer, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. Murillo’s Flower Girl is an Andalusian Flora, goddess of flowers and of Spring — that time of year “when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” (Tennyson, Locksley Hall).
The exhibition, in the Frick’s Oval Room and Garden Court, is co-organized by Colin B. Bailey, Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at the Frick, and Xavier F. Salomon, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich. A fully illustrated catalogue, written by Dr. Salomon, features an essay on the origins of the collection at Dulwich as well as comprehensive entries on the nine works.
Principal funding for the exhibition is provided by Christie's and Melvin R. Seiden.
Additional support is generously provided by John and Constance Birkelund, Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Eberstadt, Fiduciary Trust Company International, Barbara G. Fleischman, Francis Finlay, and Hester Diamond.
The accompanying catalogue is made possible by Jon and Barbara Landau.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.