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For the first time in The Americas: Exhibition of masterpieces from the Prado Museum
Miguel Zugaza Miranda, director of the Museo Nacional del Prado poses in front of El Primo.


PONCE.- Museo de Arte de Ponce announced El Greco to Goya: Masterpieces from the Prado Museum, a historic exhibition that marks the beginning of an important cultural exchange between the Old World and the New. The exhibition will be open to the public from March 25 through July 9, 2012.
For the first time in The Americas, the public will be able to view an exhibit comprised entirely of masterworks from the collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid. With Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico as its venue, this unprecedented exhibit will showcase 25 works by some of the great masters of Spanish painting, including Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Peter Paul Rubens, Francisco de Zurbarán and Tiziano. The exhibition will be open to the public from March 25 through July 9, 2012.

Miguel Zugaza Miranda, director of the Prado Museum, and Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, director of conservation and research, travelled to Puerto Rico for the inaugural ceremonies, on the occasion of the first time that El Prado co-organizes an exhibition consisting exclusively of works from its permanent collection. The collections of Museo de Arte de Ponce are of undoubted excellence and the Spanish public had the opportunity to enjoy three years ago The Sleeping Beauty, an exhibition made entirely with funds from British painting of this distinguished museum. "With Del Greco a Goya we wanted to thank this gesture of generosity with an important group of paintings from El Prado that includes works by Tiziano, El Greco, Velázquez, Rubens and Goya, the names that define the special nature of our art gallery," noted the director of the renowned museum in Madrid. "The collaboration with Museo de Arte de Ponce has given us a special satisfaction and we are happy to share our collections with the people of Puerto Rico."

The exhibition presents a survey of religious paintings, still-lifes, and portraits of Spanish royalty from the 17th to the early 19th century, all done by great masters in the employ of the Spanish crown. Grouped into subject categories, the works reflect a wide spectrum of the culture of the time, opening an interesting path for analysis of the political and social history of this important period in the Spanish Empire. The show centers on the artistic traditions of the country and the ideological ideas on which the Spanish School was founded in the 17th century. The dynastic relationships of the Spanish monarchy, first with Italy and later with Flanders, generated a complex interaction of Spanish and Italo-Flemish styles in the works on view. From the reign of Charles I of Habsburg (the Emperor Charles V) through that of King Ferdinand VII de Bourbon, the exhibition will provide visitors unique contact with many of the great masterworks of Spanish painting, as well as exposure to the artistic achievements and innovations of the great artists of the time.

“Our interest at the Museo de Arte de Ponce is in giving the public access to the finest examples of world art. In this case, we have chosen works that are absolutely iconic, works that people seek out when they visit the Prado’s extraordinary galleries in Madrid. It is rare for such an important group of paintings to be removed from the active walls of the Prado—including the Velázquez Gallery, where Las Meninas is on permanent display—for a loan of this sort, and so we express our gratitude for the distinction granted us by the directors of the Prado Museum and Acción Cultural Española, who have been extremely supportive in lending this remarkable selection of works,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, director of the Museo de Arte de Ponce.

On the other hand, Del Greco a Goya represents a tremendous event for tourists since the exhibition will satisfy the highest expectations of that large sector of the market made up of visitors interested in experiences related to art, culture, and education. Doctor Arteaga seized the occasion of the announcement of El Greco to Goya to urge everyone in the U.S. to come to Puerto Rico and enjoy “the Prado in Ponce,” with the unique advantage of not having to have a visa or passport. He also stressed the diversity of places of interest and the beauties of Ponce and the rest of the south region of Puerto Rico, known as Porta Caribe.

Along with the artworks from Museo del Prado visitors will also delight in 15 works by the Spanish School related in chronology to the Prado paintings that belong, in their majority, to the Museo de Arte de Ponce’s permanent collection. This group includes canvases by Luis de Morales, Jusepe de Ribera, El Greco and his studio, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and Francisco de Goya, among others. It will also include the wonderful Self-Portrait as a Campesino, a work done in Puerto Rico in 1776 by Spanish painter Luis Paret y Alcázar during his exile in the then-Spanish colony.

As part of the Museo de Arte de Ponce’s educational program, the museum will offer thematic tours, art workshops, curricular-integration workshops for teachers and art experts, and a series of lectures on the works and the main themes that run through the exhibit. The educational component of the exhibit is sponsored by the Banco Santander, with additional funding by Goya de Puerto Rico. With the support of these corporations, the Museo de Arte de Ponce will be able to provide a full range of educational and cultural activities to complement the exhibit.

“We want to maximize the educational potential presented to us by El Greco to Goya, so we are planning interpretive activities for all the many kinds of visitors who will be viewing the exhibit, so that they can better understand the paintings, increase their knowledge of the works’ subjects, and generally have a fuller and more enjoyable experience,” explained Dr. Arteaga, who also mentioned that the museum will have available podcasts to enhance a virtual visit to the museum. Audio guides in both Spanish and English languages are part of the complementary gears of the exhibition as well as an educational guide for teachers of elementary school.

The calendar of events to accompany the exhibit includes a cycle of mastered lectures by scholars in art history from El Prado Museum. Musical and cultural activities are also planned, such as evenings with the Spanish guitar, flamenco nights, film cycles and tastings of Spanish cuisine, as well as laboratories for adults, young people, and children and curricular-integration workshops for teachers.
A bi-lingual illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue can be purchased in the museum shop or online at www.museoarteponce.org. The cost of admission to this exhibition is $5.00. For more information, please call 787-840-1510 or write to info@museoarteponce.org.





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