Exhibition: The splendours of Córdoba in its foundations and museums - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum


2015-03-17 • 2015-06-15

The splendours of Córdoba in its foundations and museums

84 works in all, mostly from the art collections of CajaSur savings bank and Córdoba Provincial Council, with the addition of major works from other local bodies and museums.

Curated by Miguel Clementson, The Splendours of Córdoba features a selection of works by major artists from the city, together with a number of works by other artists whose lives and careers were closely associated with this regional capital. Also included are works commissioned by patrons and collectors from the city's leading families and religious foundations that consequently became part of collections in Córdoba. The selection certainly gives a good idea of the extraordinary breadth and variety of the city of Córdoba's art heritage, reflected in the exhibition's original title in Spanish, Córdoba luciente (literally, Brilliant Córdoba), taken from verses written by Spanish Golden Age poet Luis de Góngora (Córdoba, 1561-1627).

The exhibition has been organized by the Viana Foundation, which provides a cultural rendezvous for CajaSur and Córdoba Provincial Council. Through the temporary loan of a significant part of their art collections (which range from the 16th to the 21st century), these two institutions provide the core of the exhibition. Other leading contributions to the show come from the Rafael Botí Provincial Visual Arts Foundation Collection and from the leading museums in Córdoba and the surrounding province.

A number of museums and cultural centres in Córdoba are represented in the exhibition, including the Benítez Mellado Bequest, located in Bujalance, the Rodríguez Luna Museum, in Montoro, the Lozano SidroMuseum and the Arts Centre for the Contemporary Spanish Landscape, both to be found in Priego, and the Garnelo Museum, in Montilla. City institutions providing major works include the Córdoba Fine Arts Museum, the Royal Circle of Friendship and the Pepe Espaliú Art Centre.

Altogether the exhibition features 84 paintings, sculptures and works on paper loaned for the occasion by the organizers and other institutions. As already noted, Córdoba Provincial Council and CajaSur have made the decisive contributions, with twenty or so works each. From the CajaSur and Palacio de Viana Foundations come ten paintings and two sculptures, with fifteen works from the Rafael Botí Provincial Visual Arts Foundation, most of them pieces of graphic art by leading artists in the field.

From the museums of Córdoba and the surrounding province come a dozen paintings that illustrate nicely the kind of artwork held by local cultural centres.

Splendours follows a timeline from the late Renaissance to the beginnings of the avant-garde; from the 17th to the 20th century. It starts in the early 17th century with two works representative of the output of Pantoja de la Cruz and Jan Brueghel the Younger, who then give way to the magnificent repertoire of the Baroque period, with works by painters of the stature of Valdés Leal, Luca Giordano and Antonio del Castillo.

From the 18th century come works by Acisclo A. Palomino and José Ignacio del Cobo y Guzmán, who continued in the Baroque  tradition, albeit with a broader, and more colourful palette. Also featured is Miguel J. Meléndez de Ribera, whose work had begun to reflect the changes in taste prompted by the recently arrived Bourbon dynasty.

Bearing witness to the range of artistic idioms that coexisted in the 19th century are works typical of several movements of the time: Neoclassicism, in Juan Antonio de Rivera's Portrait of the Sculptor Álvarez Cubero and Romanticism, in the shape of the Duke of Rivas's Self-Portrait. Other works from this time may be usefully filed under Realism, Symbolism and Modernism.

The section covering the period spanning the late 19th century and the early 20th century features some fine works by Tomás Muñoz Lucena, Joaquín Sorolla, Ángel Díaz Huertas, José Garnelo, Adolfo Lozano Sidro and Mateo Inurria, although pride of place must go to the works of a family that proved decisive to the course of art's development in Córdoba: Rafael Romero Barros and his sons, and their acclaimed relatives the painters Rafael and, in particular, Julio Romero de Torres.

In view of the sheer variety of artistic idioms and initiatives spawned in the 20th century, figurative and abstract artists have been grouped separately for the purposes of this exhibition, despite many of them sharing, to some extent, similar underlying approaches.

Finally, one room houses selected graphic works from the Rafael Botí Provincial Visual Arts Foundation's superb collection. Besides Robert Matta, the roster of 11 artists shown here includes leading figures in modern and contemporary Spanish art, notably Picasso, Joan Miró, Alberto Sánchez, Pablo Palazuelo, Juan Barjola, Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, Antonio Saura, Luis Gordillo and Eduardo Arroyo.

In the image:
Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930)
Amor sagrado, amor profano, 1907-1908
Oil on canvas, 168 x 139 cms
Colección Cajasur