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Spain revalues ​​the art of the Viceroyalty of Peru: director of the Prado Museum reveals the details |  INTERVIEW

Spain revalues ​​the art of the Viceroyalty of Peru: director of the Prado Museum reveals the details | INTERVIEW

Spain revalues ​​the art of the Viceroyalty of Peru: director of the Prado Museum reveals the details |  INTERVIEW

“How many Spaniards do not know that the Christs after which they process at Easter or the chalices of their churches were carved or chiseled in America! This exhibition wants to alleviate this deficit“Says Miguel Falomir (Valencia, 1966), director of the most important museum in Spain that in 2019 exhibited as a guest work, in a room very close to the older paintings by Velásquez and other greats, a famous painting from the Cusco School:” The wedding of Captain Marín de Loyola with Beatriz Ñusta and Juan de Borja with Lorenza Ñusta de Loyola ”. This year, in the same room, an imposing Mexican screen of the conquest painted on both sides was exhibited. And he has just inaugurated “Tornaviaje”, or the return trip to Europe loaded with art objects from the colonies.

What is happening at the Prado Museum with American viceregal art?

The Prado Museum considered a few years ago to expand its narratives, incorporating artistic manifestations until now excluded or marginalized. There have been two preferred lines of action: giving visibility to the role of women in the art world and incorporating the art of the viceroyalties. In this second line I would highlight, on the one hand, the exhibition of singular works of art such as the ones you mention; on the other, the commission to Dr. Jaime Cuadriello, professor at UNAM in Mexico, from the Prado 2018 chair, the content of which we will publish shortly. The next step, and the most ambitious, is the exhibition “Tornaviaje ”.

What do you think will be the importance of Tornaviaje in looking at the collections of Ibero-American arts that have been preserved in Spain since viceregal times?

Tornaviaje Its objective is as simple as it is resounding: to tell the Spanish public about a reality that it ignores: that in the 16th to 18th centuries more American artistic objects arrived in Spain than Italian or Flemish ones. These thousands of objects, many due to Indian or mestizo craftsmen, often present materials, themes and techniques unknown in the metropolis, and their realization responded to various purposes: reaffirmation of the dominance of the metropolis, identity aspirations of the Creole elites, or motivations documentaries, devotionals and aesthetics. The massive arrival of American works was a phenomenon that reached the entire country. We have brought them from all the regions of Spain, most of them from the same places they arrived in past centuries. A singular element of these works, especially the religious images, is the way in which they took root in Spain and the fervor that they continue to awaken in their parishioners.

How many Peruvian works of art are there in Tornaviaje and which ones would you highlight?

There are 22 works carried out in what is now Peru. I would highlight an excellent selection of full-length Lima portraits from the 17th and 18th centuries and what, for me, is one of the most outstanding pieces in the exhibition: “The Quadro of the Natural Civil and Geographical History of the Kingdom of Peru” (1799) from the National Museum of Natural Sciences, carried out by the Biscayan economist José Ignacio de Lecuanda, author of the texts, and the French painter Louis Thiébaut, commissioned by Manuel Godoy, Prime Minister of Carlos IV. It shows in more than 300 images the botanical and zoological wealth of Peru and the variety of its inhabitants.

There is talk of expansion projects for the Prado Museum. Will this viceregal art have a place in them? How do you imagine it should be present?

Important works of viceregal art hung in the same palaces and in the same rooms as the paintings by Tiziano, Rubens and Velázquez that the Prado Museum preserves today. Re-hanging viceregal works and canvases by European masters together would offer a richer and more complex vision of the circulation and reception of artistic objects in Spain in Modern times. That is where the future performances of the Prado Museum will go.

In these times it is increasingly difficult to make large exhibitions that cross the oceans: there are very high costs of insurance, freight, etc. What do you think about it?

The price of exhibitions has been constant. It was accentuated after the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 and I fear that, with COVID, the costs will rise again. Consequences? The exhibitions will continue to be held, but they will be less numerous and smaller and more focused on the museum’s own collections.

The Museo del Prado has a very friendly website and takes a traveling sample of reproductions around the world. Is that a way to bring audiences closer together?

We use whatever means are within our reach to spread the knowledge of our collections. The two you mention could be located at the extremes: on the one hand, reproductions of paintings displayed in the main streets and squares of cities, following the pioneering example of the “circulating museums” of the Second Republic (1931-1936); on the other, the most modern technology through a website and social networks whose excellence has been repeatedly recognized abroad. We are very proud of the quantity and quality of content that we offer free of charge, and of the high number of Ibero-American followers we have, many of them in Peru.

You visited Peru privately a few years ago. What impressions do you remember, do you have friends, Peruvian interlocutors?

From Peru I liked everything I saw, obviously Cuzco / Machu Pichu, but also Arequipa and Lima. I only regretted not having more time to get to know such an extraordinarily varied country. I think that, in addition to its many cultural, natural and culinary attractions (how wonderful Arequipa’s picanterías!), The guidance of excellent Peruvian colleagues and friends was decisive. They are quite a few, but I would like to single out a very dear friend: Luis Eduardo Wuffarden. We have shared an office in Madrid for more than 30 years and since then their friendship has given me unforgettable moments.

"Sponsorship of the Immaculate Conception on the children of the Viceroy Count of Lemos".  Work of Francisco de Escobar (active in Lima between 1649 and 1676).  Photo: Reproduction of Jose Baztan Lacasa / Courtesy of the Prado Museum.

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