Ronni Baer, the William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings in the Art of Europe at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
(MFA), will be honored as a knight-commander in the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica) by the Spanish government on February 9. Bestowed by Don Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, the Orders insignia and entitlement will be presented to Baer by Ambassador of Spain to the United States Jorge Dezcallar at a special ceremony at the home of Carlos Robles, Consul General of Spain, in Brookline. The distinction is accorded to Baer for her outstanding contributions to the dissemination of Spanish culture in the USA in recognition of her curatorial work for El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III. The exhibition was on view at the MFA from April 20 through July 27, 2008.
Don Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, is pleased to honor Ronni Baer in recognition of her outstanding contributions to furthering the appreciation of Spanish culture in the United States, said Ambassador Dezcallar. Through her efforts, the achievements of Spains greatest painters, El Greco and Velázquez, were seen in a new light, and the work of their lesser-known contemporaries was showcased for new audiences to enjoy.
In celebration of the opening of El Greco to Velázquez last year, the daughter of the King of Spain, Her Royal Highness Doña Cristina de Borbón, Infanta of Spain, and her husband, His Excellency Don Iñaki Urdangarín, Duke of Palma, attended a special reception held at the Museum (on April 12, 2008). Among the guests was the contemporary Spanish artist Antonio López García, whose exhibition, Antonio López García, ran concurrent to El Greco to Velázquez. Others in attendance included His Excellency, D. Carlos Westendorp y Cabeza, previous Ambassador of Spain to the United States, and Senator Edward Kennedy and Mrs. Victoria Kennedy.
El Greco to Velázquez shed new light on the little known period of 23 years (15981621) during which Philip III ruled Spain. The exhibition featured more than 60 paintings, among them 11 works by El Greco and seven by Velázquez, including two masterpieces from the MFAs own collection. It offered an in-depth study of Spains art from the strikingly original late style of El Greco to the emergent naturalism in the work of the young Velázquez in the context of the political, religious, and social history of the period. The exhibition focused not only on the achievements of Spains greatest painters, but also introduced to the American public outstanding works by lesser-known yet highly accomplished artists, among them: Juan Bautista Maino, Juan Sánchez Cotán, Luis Tristán, and Gregorio Fernández. Organized by the MFA and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the exhibition was co-curated by Baer and Sarah Schroth, the Nancy Hanks Senior Curator at the Nasher Museum, who also has been made a knight-commander of the Order. It was on view at the Nasher Museum from August 22 through November 9, 2008. El Greco to Velázquez received international acclaim and was named one of the 10 best American museum shows of 2008 by Time magazine. It also was noted as among the years standout exhibitions by The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe.
We are very proud of Ronni and the splendid work she did in organizing El Greco to Velázquez, said MFA Director Malcolm Rogers. The exhibition not only was a great critical success, but it also brought to light new scholarship about the artistry of Spain during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Created in 1815, the Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel La Católica is one of Spains highest civil honors. Today, it is the primary knighthood by which His Majesty, the King of Spain, recognizes the extraordinary merit of those individuals who significantly promote the values of Spanish arts and culture in the Americas as it was under Queen Isabella when this continent was discovered.
"I am deeply honored by this award. It was a privilege to work with Spanish institutions and collectors to present a little-known aspect of their extraordinary art to the American public and to contribute in some small way to the understanding of the rich history and culture of Spain."
Baer, a specialist in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish art, joined the MFA in 2000 as the Mrs. Russell W. Baker Senior Curator of Paintings in Art of Europe, and since then has curated The Poetry of Everyday Life: Dutch Painting in Boston (MFA, 2002), Rembrandts Journey: Painter Draftsman Etcher (MFA, 2003), and Five Centuries of European Portraiture form the MFA (Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 20062007), as well as El Greco to Velázquez. She became the William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings in 2008. Prior to joining the MFA, she curated the exhibition Gerrit Dou 1613-1675 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Baer completed her Masters and Ph.D. in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, following her undergraduate work in French literature at Emory University.