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Journeys to New Worlds: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial art on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The House at Nazareth, Late 18th century. Artist/maker unknown, Bolivian. Oil on canvas, Image: 24 x 31 3/4 inches (61 x 80.6 cm). Framed: 29 1/4 x 37 3/8 x 2 inches (74.3 x 94.9 x 5.1 cm). Promised gift of the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- On February 16, 2013, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will open an exhibition of outstanding paintings, furniture, and works in silver and ivory from Roberta and Richard Huber’s collection of Spanish and Portuguese colonial art. Journeys to New Worlds offers compelling evidence of the new visual culture created by the global empires of these two nations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Including elegant religious sculptures, ornate silverwork, and vibrant paintings of Catholic saints and South American aristocrats, this exhibition offers rare insight into a world of dramatic change and converging cultures.

Journeys to New Worlds will illuminate for visitors the enormous variety and complexity of art made during the Iberian colonial period. It contains several paintings by the Andean master Melchor Pérez Holguín (Bolivian, c. 1665–after 1724) including Pietà (c. 1720), an inventive interpretation of Catholic iconography. The exhibition also explores the adaptation of European imagery into local idioms, for example the presence of Asiatic features on ivory sculptures produced in the Portuguese colonies in Goa and the Spanish colonies in the Philippines. The enormous wealth generated by Spain’s colonial possessions in South America and the sophisticated lifestyle it supported can be seen in the Portrait of Rosa de Salazar y Gabiño, Countess of Monteblanco and Montemar (c. 1764–71, by an unknown Peruvian artist), which depicts one of the richest aristocrats of Peru at that time. The House at Nazareth (late eighteenth century, by an unknown Bolivian artist)takes a scene venerated in high religious culture and translates it into a familiar domestic scene replete with lively details and vibrant color. The combination of these hybrid visual traditions—European, American, and Asian—provide viewers with a glimpse of the new and increasingly complex cultural world forged in the making of these global empires.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the development of a vast network of trade routes created the conditions for an unparalleled artistic exchange within the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires. Works of art traveled between these two European countries and their colonies in Latin America and Asia, and the burgeoning trade in this field led to the development of new visual traditions. Emblematic of their time and place, the works created in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies of Latin American and Asia are often distinctive in style and content, yet they also reflect a shared heritage of culture, religion, and artistic practice that ranged geographically from Peru to Sri Lanka.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, notes, “We are delighted to share with the public Roberta and Richard Huber’s remarkable collection. These objects, many on view for the first time in the United States, will enrich and delight our visitors. The Hubers have promised as a gift to the Museum a large group of historically significant paintings that will strengthen our collection and bolster our longstanding commitment to the arts in Latin America.”

Based in New York City, the Hubers lived for many years in South America, where their dedicated collecting began nearly four decades ago. Richard Huber began his career at First National Bank of Boston and relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1962. His work took them to São Paulo, Brazil, and Tokyo, Japan, before he retired as Chief Executive Officer of Aetna in 2000. Throughout their travels, the couple’s focus on South America further intensified as they continued to explore the remarkable global culture that catalyzed the development and growth of Spanish and Portuguese colonial art in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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February 16, 2013

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