CEEH Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica

Esculturas para el Alcázar


Madrid, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, 14/12/2007 - 30/03/2008


José María Luzón Nogué


Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando


Fundación Cajamurcia and CEEH


Fundación AXA - Winterthur

Between 1649 and 1651, Velázquez travelled to Italy with a very special commission: to buy works of art to decorate the Alcázar of Madrid. The Seville painter was Philip IV’s right-hand man in Rome, the international artistic centre during the seventeenth century, where he visited the collections of the most important families, such as the Medici, the Ludovisi or the Borghese, and especially the collections built up by the popes, from Julius II to Innocent X, in the Palace of the Belvedere in the Vatican.

Among the pieces Velázquez brought to Spain the sculptures of Dionysus, Ariadne and Niobe stand out. They were housed in the Alcázar, where they stood until the great fire that devastated the building in 1734. The exhibition displays part of those works in a group that enables the balance and beauty of the classical forms to be enjoyed. A total of 76 pieces, between sculptures, books, paintings, drawings and archive documents, coming from institutions such as the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the Prado Museum and National Heritage.

The majority of the sculptures are plaster casts made in the 17th century by Italian artists such as Bonucelli. Nowadays these pieces are an exceptional document showing the state they were in when Velázquez acquired them. All of them suffered considerable transformations in subsequent restorations, especially in the eighteenth century, and hence they have an exceptional artistic, historical and documentary value. They are brought together here for the first time since their dispersal in 1734.

CEEH and the Center for Spain in America (CSA) are contributing to this exhibition by sponsoring the catalogue.

See catalogue