The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya
October 5, 2010, through January 9, 2011
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), Regozijo (Mirth) (Album D. 4) c. 1816–20, brush and ink with wash and chalk , The Hispanic Society of America, New York
Spanish draftsmen of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries created
works of dazzling beauty and inventiveness. Though often well versed in the
traditions of Italy and Flanders, artists on the Iberian Peninsula developed their own
signature techniques and departed from academic conventions of representing the
human figure. They explored a wide range of subject matter and motifs, from saints
and biblical scenes infused with Counter-Reformation ideology to depictions of
martyrdoms, torture, and otherworldly creatures. This original, visionary, and
fantastic aspect is a defining hallmark of the “Spanish manner.”
This exhibition is the first dedicated to the tradition of Spanish draftsmanship to be
held in New York, which is second only to Madrid in the extent and quality of its
collections of Spanish master drawings. The show begins with a large ensemble
encompassing both preliminary sketches and finished studies that were made in
important centers of artistic activity in seventeenth-century Spain, including Seville,
Madrid, and Spanish-ruled Naples. Groups of works by Golden Age masters Jusepe
de Ribera (1591–1652) and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682) reveal the
development of their distinctive drawing styles and their deft handling of different
media over time. Key examples by their contemporaries Vicente Carducho (c. 1576–1638)
and Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614–1685) represent the breadth of accomplishment
among Spanish draftsmen in preparing commissioned works or studies for their own
use. Two eighteenth-century works by the court artists Mariano Salvador Maella
(1739–1819) and Francisco Bayeu (1734–1795) highlight their drawing practice,
emphasizing the use of colored papers and contrasting white chalk, techniques also
used by other celebrated practitioners of European neoclassicism.
The final section of the exhibition centers on twenty-two sheets by Francisco de Goya
y Lucientes (1746–1828), whose drawings are rarely presented in the context of his Spanish
predecessors. Nearly all the works by Goya shown formed part of the eight cycles
of drawings made between the late eighteenth century and his death, which have
been described as “albums.” For the artist, these remarkable records of things seen,
remembered, and imagined served as an expressive end in themselves. They also
attest to the continuity of Goya’s thematic interests with those of his Spanish
forebears and represent the culmination in the nineteenth century of a distinctly
Spanish mode of draftsmanship.
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.