CEEH Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica

Romantic Spain: David Roberts and Genaro Pérez Villaamil


Claudia Hopkins (ed.)


512 pages; 285 colour illustrations; hardcover, 22 x 27,5 cm


English; published by the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the CEEH and the Instituto Ceán Bermúdez; 2021





David Roberts (1796–1864) and Genaro Pérez Villaamil (1807–1854) were two of the most important landscape painters of European Romanticism. Their views of Spanish monuments, cities and landscapes, often coloured with a flavour of traditional life, helped to forge a Romantic image of Spain that is still palpable today.

This catalogue, which accompanies the exhibition of the same name in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, offers new perspectives on the dialogue between the work of both artists in the context of the cultural discovery of the Spain, North Africa and the Middle East by artist-travellers in the nineteenth century. Adopting a comparative approach, six essays and over 120 catalogue entries written by eleven experts led by Claudia Hopkins, curator of the show and editor of this volume, cover the trajectories of both artists, starting with their first encounter in Seville in 1833.

The authors examine Roberts’s influence on Villaamil in depth for the first time and reveal important differences in their respective visions of Spain. For Roberts, Spain was a timeless and exotic nation. Although Villaamil shared Roberts’s fascination with Andalusia, he shifted attention towards the north and often defied the cultural clichés promoted by the Scottish artist. Villaamil offered a patriotic image of a Catholic Spain, which was opening itself up to progress. By the 1850s, both artists responded in similar ways to modern developments in their respective countries.

The catalogue, which includes unpublished artworks, is richly illustrated with images of drawings, paintings and prints, as well as manuscripts and ceramics, enabling the reader to draw numerous parallels.

Claudia Hopkins is Professor and Director of the Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art at Durham University. Before joining Durham in 2020, she was Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Edinburgh and co-editor of the Getty-funded journal Art in Translation. Her research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish art and Anglo-Spanish cultural relations. In 2009, she made substantial contributions to the exhibition The Discovery of Spain: British Artists and Collectors. Goya to Picasso, National Gallery of Scotland. She is author of articles, book chapters and edited volumes, a.o. Pascual de Gayangos: A Nineteenth-Century Spanish Arabist (2009, with C. Álvarez-Millán), Orientalism and Spain (with A. McSweeney, 2017), Hot Art, Cold War (2 vols., 2020, with I.B. Whyte). Her monograph The Orient Within: Spanish Art and Identity 1833-1956 is forthcoming.