The Prado Museum, a 200-year story

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General view of the Museo del Prado, by Outisnn (via Wikipedia)

Last November 19, the museum celebrated the 200 year anniversary of its opening. The University Library regularly receives Spanish art catalogues – including the ones issued by the Prado – but this time we have also acquired a selection of recent books (listed below) commemorating this occasion. Among them we can highlight Museo del Prado, 1819-2019: un lugar de memoria (C202.b.3782), catalogue of an exhibition focused on the museum’s history, organised by the institution. Continue reading

Ohrid churches in print and in person : the October 2019 Slavonic items of the month

In Collections and Academic Liaison, we work with many donations of books which add significantly to the University Library’s collections.  While they chiefly inspire research amongst readers, they sometimes also inspire holidays amongst librarians.  Thanks to Professor Nigel Morgan’s collection of books about North Macedonian churches, I spent an extraordinary week in Ohrid this autumn.

Sveti Jovan Kaneo, overlooking Lake Ohrid

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“Black models” in visual culture and modern arts

The Mémorial ACTe (Centre caribéen d’expressions et de mémoire de la Traite et de l’Esclavage) in Guadeloupe is hosting until December 2019 a jointly curated exhibition previously held at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in New York, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today (October 2018 to February 2019, see C200.a.5469) and at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Le Modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse (March to July 2019, see S950.b.201.5919). The Memorial to slavery, opened in 2015, which is also a cultural centre and museum, seems an appropriate venue for this exhibition, which focuses on “the representation of the black figure in the development of modern art”. Continue reading

Nadar: the story of a photography pioneer

Last year the Bibliothèque nationale de France organised Les Nadar, un légende photographique, an exhibition on this family of photographers (accompanying catalogue: S950.b.201.5289 featuring Paul Nadar’s portrait of Sarah Bernhardt on the cover). The most important of these was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, photography pioneer, freelance writer and caricaturist, known by his pseudonym, Nadar. In addition, his son Paul and his half-brother Adrien Tournachon were gifted photographers.

Caricature of F. Nadar in La lune, 1867, 2015.8.2833

Félix Nadar was born in 1820 into a family of printers and booksellers in Lyon. From a young age he was an admirer of Dumas, Hugo and Balzac. He started to study medicine in Lyon but once his father died in 1837, he had to quit and moved to Paris. There he started his career as writer and caricaturist, collaborating in some journals. He frequented the Parisian bohemian scene in the Latin Quarter; where he met important writers, such as Dumas (father), Balzac, Gérard de Nerval, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, George Sand, Alfred de Vigny, the Goncourt brothers… Nadar was part of “the water drinkers”, the bohemian circle of Henry Murguer. Félix was well connected and maintained his links with these friends later on. Continue reading

Sorolla, Spanish master of light

The exhibition Sorolla: Spanish master of light (S950.a.201.6770) that inspired this post is coming to an end at the National Gallery (London) on 7 July, but will open at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin between 10 August and 3 November.

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Self-portrait, 1904 (partial view. Via Wikimedia, click to see enlarged)

Although probably not known to the English-speaking educated public, Sorolla was the most internationally well-known Spanish artist of his time. A painter with a style close to impressionism, and without any doubt, a master at capturing light.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) was born in Valencia, the son of a tradesman, but became an orphan at a young age. Joaquín and his sister were taken under the care of their aunt and uncle, who was a locksmith. Sorolla showed an early interest in painting. He started taking drawing classes in 1874, later followed by studies at the Fine arts school in Valencia. With the support of the photographer Antonio García Peris (see S950.c.201.1204), his future father-in-law, he was able to set up his first studio. Continue reading