Exhibitions - Museo Nacional de Escultura

"El Greco. Apostle"
8th March to 13th May 2007

Among El Greco's three sets of paintings of the Apostles still found complete, the one that is on display in this exhibition, from 1590, occupies a privileged position. It is possible that this one inspired the others, which are larger in size. The lack of certain distinguishing characteristics to identify the apostles led to the addition of names painted on in the 18th century.

With his unusual technique, agitated brushwork and unnatural colours, the great Cretan painter, who spent the majority of his career in Toledo, dematerializes the figures of the apostles, these bearers of the evangelical message, painted on dark backgrounds without so much as a preparatory sketch. Professor Perez Sanchez writes, "in these passionate, febrile busts you can see much of the artist's personality and temperament, oscillating as always between the idealistic abstraction of Mannerism and the expressive tension of devotion that the Counter-Reformation demanded at that time."

The poses the apostles adopt, their faces and expressions - six looking one way and six looking the other - seem to require a centre-piece, a painting of Christ in the middle. Consequently, in order to make more sense of the current exhibition, the painting of Christ from the El Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales de Valladolid has been added.

Juan de Juni's Artistic Environment
May to November
Palacio de los Aguila

The 16th Century is one of the most interesting stages in the history of Spanish art. It is a time of confluence, synthesis and exchange. The tenacity of Gothic schemas, the late incorporation of new Renaissance ideas, political relations with Flanders and Italy and the fact that artists began to travel much more, all combined to produce a fruitful and diverse body of work that transcended provincial limitations. Into this melting pot, Juan de Juni's arrival in Spain in 1577 was of particular importance. His sculpture rose above Gothic stereotyping, and sought to combine Renaissance scenography with Baroque attention to the fleeting moment.

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