Two Paintings Acquired by the Fine Arts Museum in Seville

1. School of Seville, End of the 17th - Early 18th Century
Rest during the Flight into Egypt
Oil on Canvas - 206 x 247.5 cm
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes
Photo : MBA Séville

23/01/12 - Acquisitions - Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes - The Museum of Fine Arts in Seville has made some beautiful additions to its already rich collections. The first, acquired by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, illustrates the Rest during the Flight into Egypt (ill. 1) ; produced at the end of the 17th or in the early 18th century, it would appear to be by an artist in Murillo’s circle. The young John the Baptist is shown alongside a lamb and lively cherubs draped in colorful cloths, in shades corresponding to the repertory of the Spanish master who, in fact, painted several canvases with this theme : one resides at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the other at the Fine Arts Museum in Budapest. The work in Detroit shows some similarities with the one from Seville, notably the figure of the Virgin, although this one is sitting under a palm tree and the former on top of the donkey. Unlike Murillo, this anonymous painter chose to multiply the number of details and figures which he aligned in two intersecting diagonals to achieve a composition where the movement is emphasized also by a rather sharp contrast of shadows and light. The foreground is scattered with very detailed flowers while the sky is treated more freely. The Holy Family, John the Baptist and the angel on the donkey are of better quality than the other figures, their softer features recalling Murillo, and indicating that the artist was perhaps a direct disciple of the master. The other figures, however, may have been painted by a less qualified hand.

2. José María Tamburini (1856-1932)
The Count of Urgell in the hands of
King Ferdinand of Antequera’s men

Oil on Canvas - 127 X 170 cm
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes
Photo : MBA Séville

The second work was donated in 2010 and represents The Count of Urgell in the hands of King Ferdinand of Antequera’s men ; it is by José María Tamburini y Dalmau (ill. 2). The death of King Martin I in 1410 who left no heirs, set off a war of succession for the throne of Aragon. James II, Count of Urgell, was one of the claimants to the crown which went instead to Ferdinand in 1412, after the compromise of Caspe. James of Urgell led a revolt, was defeated and imprisoned. The painter describes the scene here in minute detail, with brilliant colors and a dramatic sense along with a taste for historical narrative.

3. Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta
Flamenco Dancer,
Antonia la Gallega
, 1912
Oil on canvas - 196 x 117 cm
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes
Photo : MBA de Séville

The artist’s career can be divided into two distinct periods ; the first, corresponding to this canvas, includes historical paintings of "academic realism", after which Tamburini turned to a more Symbolist and pre-Raphaelite production. Astride two centuries and various influences, he trained in Barcelona then Paris where he attended Léon Bonnat’s studio, finally traveled to Rome where he was attracted to the work of Mariano Fortuny (1838-1874). He was a painter but also illustrator, literary critic and poet in the Renaixença, a Catalan literary movement.

We conclude by pointing out that the Sevillian museum also benefited from a deposit by the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía in order to replace the portrait of Madame Malinovska by the same artist which had been exhibited in Seville since 1976 and returned to Madrid. This one is a portrait of a flamenco dancer, Antonia la Gallega, produced in Paris in 1912 by Ignacio Zuloaga (ill. 3), some of whose works were recently exhibited in the French capital at the Orangerie (see article). Each of these canvases represent a woman standing, in three-quarter profile, against a colored background and slightly di sotto in su. This is a formula found in many feminine portraits and reveals his admiration for Goya. The dancer is barely smiling at the viewer while the fabric of her dress and the dynamic movement of the background, no doubt in harmony with the model’s temperament, create a seductive decorative effect. Although he also painted scenes of Parisian society, as seen in the portrait of the Countess of Noailles, Zuloaga incarnated above all the Spanish spirit.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mercredi 25 janvier 2012

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