Exhibition | Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings in Spain

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 8, 2012

From The British Museum:

Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings Made in Spain
The British Museum, London, 20 September 2012 — 5 January 2013
The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 August — 24 November 2013
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, 14 December — 9 March 2014

Curated by Mark McDonald

Spanish prints and drawings is a subject that is little known outside Spain. It is generally assumed these were marginal arts practiced only by a few well-known artists, including José de Ribera, Bartolomé Murillo and Francisco de Goya. The aim of this project is to explore the largely unchartered territory of the origins, form and function of prints and drawings in Spain. It will present for the first time a coherent study, largely based on the collections of the British Museum, that looks at their history from around 1400 through to and including Goya (died 1828). It will also present new research on the subject of the graphic arts in Spain. The material will be published in a monograph to accompany an exhibition at the British Museum in late 2012.

It is the first time prints and drawings made in Spain have been studied together. A critical aspect of the project will be to consider the presence of foreign artists working in Spain and how they contributed to the artistic landscape. Particular attention will be given to the different types of prints and drawings and their many functions to convey the role they played in artistic practice and visual culture in Spain (architectural prints and drawings, reproductive prints, landscape, religious subjects, prints made for commemorative purposes, fans, playing cards and more).

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Due out in October from Ashgate:

Catalogue: Mark McDonald, Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings Made in Spain (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2012), 320 pages, ISBN: 9781848221185.

The rich tradition of printmaking and drawing in Spain has rarely been examined, in part because of the misapprehension that Spanish artists did not draw and few turned their hand to printmaking. This spectacular study of prints and drawings will for the first time examine the history of graphic practice in Spain, providing an overview of more than 400 years of artistic production.

The story begins in the late 15th century with convergence of foreign artists in Spain who introduced new techniques and ideas. The most significant changes were brought about through the building of Philip II’s monastery of the Escorial near Madrid. Large numbers of foreign artists arrived to decorate the monastery. They included the Italians Pellegrino Tibaldi and Federico Zuccaro and the Flemish printmaker Pedro Perret, whose engravings of the Escorial are among the most remarkable architectural prints of the period. At the Escorial the international influences formed the basis of artistic practice and contributed to the distinctive appearance of art produced in Spain.

The ‘Golden Age’ — a dramatic flourishing of artistic and literary endeavour in Spain during the 17th century — is celebrated through discussion of key works by the most important visual artists of the period: Alonso Berruguete; the Carducho brothers; Murillo; Ribera; Zurbarán and the extraordinary drawings of Velázquez, about which very little is known. Each region of Spain is explored separately as independent centres of artistic activity during this time with prints and drawings examined together to demonstrate how their production was closely linked.

The book concludes with the Enlightenment and the 18th century, with a study of remarkable prints and drawings by Francisco de Goya. Goya’s important Spanish contemporaries are examined alongside the works of foreign artists who continued to come to Spain, such as the Tiepolo family who worked in Madrid.


1. Prints and Drawings in Spain: Attitudes and Evidence
2. Drawings and Prints before 1500 and Early Collecting in Spain
3. Importing Graphic Practices: Castile 1550–1600
4. Madrid as Artistic Capital 1600–1700
5. Andalusia 1500–1700
6. Valencia 1500–1700 and Ribera in Naples
7. The Eighteenth-Century Reinvention of the Graphic Arts
8. Francisco de Goya
Appendix by Clara de la Peña McTigue, Spanish Paper and Papermaking

Mark McDonald is curator of Old Master prints and Spanish drawings at the British Museum. He has published widely on the subject of Old Master prints from the 15th to the 18th centuries, with special interest in the Renaissance period. He is the author of The Print Collection of Ferdinand Columbus (1488–1539): A Renaissance Collector in Seville (winner of the Mitchell Prize 2005).

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Note (added 1 September 2013)The original posting did not include the Sydney venue; more information is available here»

Note (added 21 December 2013)Earlier versions did not include Santa Fe venue; more information is available here».

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