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

75 years of Premio Nadal

The Premio Nadal is the oldest literary prize in Spain, awarded by Ediciones Destino (since 1988 part of Planeta group) to the best unpublished novel. We can find many important 20th century Spanish writers among their list of awardees. Four of them have won the Cervantes prize as well (see our post on Premio Cervantes).

IMG_20191121_112541The prize is awarded every year on January 6. It was originally the idea of the journalist Ignacio Agustí, editor of the magazine Destino (belonging to the same publishing house) and best known for Mariona Rebull (743:01.d.17.285). The prize was created in order to discover new talent and provide a stimulus for literary creation in the post-war years. It was named after Eugenio Nadal, former editor of Destino, to honour the literature teacher who had then recently passed away at a young age.

The prize was first given in 1944 to Nada (744:35.d.95.359), an existentialist novel by the young Carmen Laforet. Three years later, it was awarded to Miguel Delibes for La sombra del ciprés es alargada (744:35.d.95.300); he is a major figure in Spanish literature of the 20th century, who won the Cervantes prize in 1993. 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

Splitting the world in two: the 525th anniversary of the Treaty of Tordesillas

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P. 1 of the Spanish version (click to see enlarged)

The 7th June marks the 525th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas. The treaty was named for the Castilian town near Valladolid where it was signed by the Catholic Kings (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) and John II, King of Portugal. The signing of this treaty divided those parts of the world newly “discovered” by Spain and Portugal between the empires of the two kingdoms along an imaginary meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands. The lands to the east of this line corresponded to Portugal and those to the west to Spain.

The Treaty of Tordesillas had a precedent, the Treaty of Alcáçovas (1479), that followed the War of Castillan Succession, and already marked the division of the Atlantic into two spheres of influence, one for Spain and the other for Portugal, with the exception of the Canary islands (Spanish, but in the Portuguese sphere). This was confirmed by the papal bull Aeterni regis (Sixtus IV, 1481) which recognised as Portuguese some disputed territories in the Atlantic (Guinea, Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde). More importantly, the treaty recognised Portugal exclusive right of navigation south of the Canary islands. Continue reading