The Frick Collection
The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya October 5, 2010, through January 9, 2011
Special Exhibition

The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya
October 5, 2010, through January 9, 2011

Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Drawings

  Jusepe de Ribera (c. 1591–1652), Head of a Man with Little Figures on His Head, pen and ink with brush and brown wash over black chalk underdrawing on prepared paper, 6 11/16 x 4 1/16 inches, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), Head of a Satyr, c. 1625–30, chalk, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1954

Fantastic figures, supernatural visions, and the presence of the unreal or unusual are features of countless Spanish drawings, as are the dark realities of history. In addition to these aspects, many of the drawings on display here are characterized by the centrality of the figure, the incorporation of writing, and a preference for colored pigments and paper.

Through the mid-eighteenth century in Spain, drawing was taught in artists’ studios. Preferred materials, with recipes for their manufacture, were passed down in workshops rather than through centralized academy training where standardized methods were conveyed. Thus drawing in Spain retained diversity and idiosyncrasy in both creation and practice. To express their ideas, Spanish draftsmen used tools like the compass and the Andalusian reed pen and materials such as rich red chalk, white lead gouache, imported crushed cochineal beetles, lapis lazuli pigment, and a wide range of colored inks and tinted papers.

From the earliest drawing in this exhibition, commissioned by nuns in Seville around 1610, to a sketch for the ceiling of a miraculous pilgrimage site in Zaragoza made in the 1770s, the assembled artworks demonstrate refined and sophisticated techniques. Many are remarkable documents of the interaction between artist and patron, and some are suggestions for adjustment to a design or a figure.

Created in places as varied as the court of Madrid, the pilgrimage site in Zaragoza, the busy ports of Seville and Valencia, the Spanish kingdom of Naples, and the exotic Córdoba, once home to the caliphs of Al-Andalus, the drawings shown here present a glimpse of the wide range of works preserved in New York–area collections.

The exhibition is organized by Jonathan Brown, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Lisa A. Banner, independent scholar; and Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator at The Frick Collection.

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the David L. Klein Jr. Foundation, Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

The accompanying catalogue has been generously underwritten by the Center for Spain in America.