In 1848 the great pioneer in the study of Spanish art, Sir William Stirling Maxwell, declared that ‘the private collections of England could probably furnish forth a gallery of Spanish pictures second only to that of the Queen of Spain’. A great many of these pictures have since entered public collections throughout the country, making Great Britain one of the best places outside Spain to study Spanish art. Initially, it was the Peninsular War of 1808-1814 that broke the floodgates and provided a new market for Spanish art, and many more paintings were to leave Spain when the Spanish monasteries were dissolved in 1832.
One such private collection is the 1st Duke of Wellington’s at Apsley House. Displayed inside this aristocratic townhouse are numerous paintings taken from Madrid’s Royal Palace by Joseph Bonaparte during the Peninsular War and later given to Wellington by King Ferdinand of Spain.
The Wallace Collection includes Velázquez’s mesmerizing portrait of a Lady with a Fan as well as a rare work by the Sevillian artist, Alonso Cano, who was known as the ‘Michelangelo of Spain’.
The National Gallery owns 9 paintings by Velázquez that span his career, from his early beginnings in Seville to his courtly paintings for Philip IV in Madrid. Alongside Velázquez hang some of Murillo’s finest paintings including several large canvases that originally decorated the altars of Seville’s monasteries and convents. The National Gallery also prides itself on a small group of works by El Greco, an artist who became fashionable in the early 20th century, principally thanks to the art critic Roger Fry who compared the abstract quality of his work with Cézanne.
Dr Xavier Bray
Art historian specialising in Spanish art and sculpture and Director of the Wallace Collection, London. Formerly Chief Curator of Dulwich Picture Gallery and Assistant Curator of 17th and 18th-century European paintings at the National Gallery. His exhibitions include Murillo & Justino de Neve: The Art of Friendship and Goya: The Portraits. He completed his PhD at Trinity College, Dublin. Twitter: @XBray | Instagram: @xabibray
10.15am at Apsley House.
c. 5.30pm at the National Gallery.
£215. This includes lunch, refreshments, donations to the galleries and taxis.
Travel is by taxi, but you are on your feet throughout the day while looking and listening.
Maximum 14 participants.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.
London Days Combinations
Combine our September day with: Sacred music in Santiago, 28 September - 2 October.
Combine our November day with: Golden Age of British Painting, Tuesday 3 December.
Thank you very much for organising a most stimulating day. The atmosphere created was harmonious, humorous and educational!
We covered a lot of ground and I found this a good addition to the Goya and El Greco trips of recent years.
Following on from Gail Turner's excellent Art in Madrid tour - an opportunity for a different, complementary take on Spanish Art.