Exhibition on view now through September 10, 2017 in Madrid, Spain
The Museo del Prado, with the exclusive support of Fundación BBVA, offers to the public the exceptional opportunity of enjoying more than two hundred works of art from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library founded to promote the art and culture of the Hispanic world in The United States.
The Hispanic Society holds the most important collection of Hispanic art outside of our borders. With more than 18,000 works of art that spans from the Paleolithic Age to the 20th century, an extraordinary research library with more than 250,000 manuscripts and 35,000 rare books, which includes 250 incunables.
Through September 10, the Museo del Prado will, in galleries A, B and C of the Jerónimos building, house the treasures of the museum and library of the Hispanic Society, an institution located in Upper Manhattan in New York, founded in 1904 by Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955), one of America’s greatest philanthropists.
“Treasures of Hispanic Society of America. Visions of the Hispanic World” brings together more than two hundred works of art including paintings, drawings, and sculpture; archaeological artifacts and decorative arts, liturgical vestments, furniture and manuscripts from the library, creating a fascinating chronological and thematic experience of the highlights of their vast collections.
With this exhibition, which occupies all of the temporary exhibition galleries in the new extension, the Museo del Prado – as they did for the exhibition “The Hermitage in the Prado” in 2012 – offers its visitors the privilege of enjoying a museum within another. In this case, the renovation of the Hispanic Society’s galleries has allowed the treasures of their collections of Spanish and Latin American art, along with rare books and manuscripts, to travel to Spain.
The extraordinary selection of paintings includes master works such as Portrait of a Little Girl, Camillo Astalli and Gaspar de Guzmán, Conde-Duque de Olivares by Velázquez, Pieta by El Greco, The Prodigal Son by Murillo, Santa Emerenciana by Zurbarán and the emblematic Duchess of Alba by Goya, especially conserved for this occasion at the Museo del Prado with the collaboration of Fundación Iberdrola. Also represented are paintings by post-impressionist and modern artists, such as Zuloaga, Sorolla and Santiago Rusiñol.
The selection of sculpture includes, among others, the Efigie of Mencía Enríquez de Toledo from the Workshop of Gil de Siloé, the terracota, The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine, by Luisa Roldán, and Fates of Man, the group of polychromed wood sculptures by Manuel Chili, known as Caspicara.
If there was one period in Spanish art that was known and appreciated abroad when Huntington started out as a collector, it was the Golden Age, mainly its painting. Murillo and Velázquez were already featured in the world’s leading museums, soon to be followed by El Greco and Zurbarán. The Hispanic Society owns excellent works by all of them, as well as by Luis de Morales, Alonso Cano and Valdés Leal, but its three canvases by Velázquez, two restored especially for this exhibition, are particularly remarkable. Foreign artists such as Anthonis Mor and Rubens, who played an essential role in the development of Spanish painting and are represented here by paintings or letters, complete the overview.
The Golden Age was not limited to painting; its sensibilities and excellence extended to other artistic activities such as pottery, precious metalcraft and sculpture. The sculptures on view include recent acquisitions such as Saint Acisclus by Pedro de Mena and The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine by La Roldana. They attest to the current fascination for polychrome sculpture, which was underappreciated until only recently. The section ends with a large canvas by Sebastián Muñoz depicting the body of Queen María Luisa de Orléans, wife of Charles II, lying in state. Unique in its kind, it is a gloomy premonition of the imminent end of the Habsburgs in Spain.
The exhibition “Treasures of the Hispanic Society of America. Visions of the Hispanic World” is accompanied by a documentary film in Gallery D, produced by the Prado Museum and sponsored by Fundación BBVA. Under the artistic direction of Francesco Jodice, the film transports the visitor to early twentieth century New York, the key time and place for the early history of the Hispanic Society.
The documentary film contextualizes the origins of the early collecting practices of Archer Milton Huntington; the construction and inauguration of the headquarters of the Hispanic Society; his collections and the fantastic holdings of the library; his relationship with Spain through Alfonso XII and the great Spanish intellectuals of the era; his friendship with Sorolla in New York; and the philanthropy of this great patron who wanted to remain anonymous during his entire life. The story is told by the Director, Mitchell Codding, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Philippe de Montebello, and the curators. The film, which runs for approximately 20 minutes, was filmed in New York and at the Prado Museum and is in English with Spanish subtitles.
For more information, to plan your visit, or obtain the exhibition catalogue, visit the website at
Watch this short commentary on the exhibition by Miguel Falomir, Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado and Mitchell A. Codding, Director of The Hispanic Society of America. English subtitles