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Bartolomé Bermejo's visual universe shown in all its splendor for the very first time
Image of the exhbition galleries "Bartolomé Bermejo". Photo © Museo Nacional del Prado.

MADRID.- Room C in the Jerónimos Building at the Museo del Prado is hosting the staging of this exhibition, curated by Joan Molina, a lecturer at the Universitat de Girona. The exhibition seeks to pay well-deserved homage to Bartolomé de Cárdenas, alias El Bermejo (1440-1501), one of the most suggestive and attractive painters of the fifteenth century, by presenting his work to the general public.

Bermejo’s work exploits the pictorial potential of oil painting techniques, a new development at the time. In this respect, he created a personal realist language, one that focused especially on illusionist effects and on the definition of spectacular ranges of color. His main point of reference consisted of Flemish painting, the school inaugurated by Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, which, by the latter half of the fifteenth century, had seduced the whole of Europe, including Italy. Although it has been speculated that Bermejo received his training in the workshops of Northern Europe, it is more probable that he learnt his craft in the cosmopolitan city of Valencia during the second third of the fifteenth century, a city that was open to Flemish and Italian styles, both of which the Cordobese painter reflected in his work.

Alongside his technical skill, he had an astonishing capacity to develop new interpretations of all kinds of devotional themes and iconographies. His desire to continue exploring new terrain, especially within the realms of landscape and portrait painting, enabled him to create some of his most complex and innovative works during the latter part of his professional career. His talent was recognized by a select group of commissioning clients, ranging from members of the Church and noblemen to distinguished merchants. It was also acknowledged by his fellow painters, who often imitated his compositions.

After his death, both his name and his work faded into obscurity, and appreciation for his creative work only revived at the end of the nineteenth century, when some of his most exceptional paintings on board aroused the interest of both international collectors and forgers of old paintings.

This exhibition, which features some 48 works from the collections of more than 25 loaning parties, is being presented between 9th October 2018 and 27th January 2019 at the Museo del Prado and, featuring some small variations, between 14th February and 19th May 2019 at the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya.

The catalogue that has been produced to accompany the exhibition, co-published by the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and featuring the collaboration of the Madrid Regional Government and the support of Fundación Banco Sabadell, presents the complex life and creative work of the Cordobese painter, Bartolomé Bermejo (1440-1501), through a series of works that he created during his travels throughout the Kingdom of Aragon, including Daroca, Barcelona, Saragossa and Valencia. The text analyses the influences that shaped his work, including representatives of the Flemish School such as Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and Rogier van der Weyden, the precursors of the new oil techniques that Bermejo applied with such virtuosity, as well as the most outstanding Italian painters of the time, such as Antonello da Messina and the Bellini. The success of Bermejo’s pictorial approach was resounding. On the one hand, his compositions were widely disseminated by a series of painters he associated with. On the other, he was much sought-after by some of the most demanding clients of the time, such as the Archdeacon of Barcelona, Lluís Desplà, and the Italian merchant, Francesco della Chiesa.

The Exhibition Catalogue, edited by Joan Molina Figueras, the exhibition’s curator, can be considered a veritable catalogue raisonné of Bermejo’s known works. It also contains texts by various renowned experts, who address and analyze different technical, material, social and iconographic aspects relating to the artist’s paintings. The publication concludes with a documentary appendix that updates and revises all of the known archive references to the artist.

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