The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Exhibit explores Spanish golden age

SMU Meadows Museum will present “Juan van der Hamen y Leon and the Court of Madrid” in the first comprehensive view of a virtually unknown artist of Spain’s Golden Age.

The museum is the only U.S. venue for the exhibition, which will be on display through May 28.

Dr. William B. Jordan, founding director of the Meadows Museum and the curator of the exhibit, said Van der Hamen was one of the most famous Spanish still life painters of the 17th century and influenced all subsequent Spanish artists.

The exhibit is the result of 40 years of research by Jordan, in an effort to set Van der Hamen in his proper place among other great masters of Spanish art. Jordan’s complete monograph on the painter was published in November 2005 and accompanies the exhibition.

His interest in the artist began when he was a graduate student in New York and realized that Van der Hamen was a great artist about whom little was known.

“I resolved to learn as much as I could about him, and I’ve been doing so ever since,” he said.

According to Jordan, Van der Hamen “was the first artist to become famous for this type of painting of inanimate objects without people.”

The exhibition will present the best of the artist’s still lifes, which Dr. Mark A. Roglan, director of the museum, said ” are among the most wonderful creations in the genre ever done.”

The exhibit also aims to show, for the first time, the complete work of the artist admired for his versatility – his portraits, allegories, landscapes, flower paintings and large-scale works for churches and convents.

“He appealed to a broad market and appealed to the intellectuals and critics of the time who praised him highly and he became kind of a superstar,” Jordan said.

Jordan believes there was a competitive rivalry between Velazquez and Van der Hamen in the Court of Madrid in the 1620s. Van der Hamen died at the young age of 35, and, as a result, his fame today has been overshadowed by the well-known Velazquez.

However, in Spain, Van der Hamen is not such an unknown name.

“When this show was in Madrid 82,000 people went to see it and it was a very well attended, successful exhibition,” Jordan said.

The exhibition features 38 paintings from 20 museums worldwide, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Prado Museum in Madrid, as well as private collections. The exhibit was organized by the Patrimonio Nacional in Madrid, in association with the Meadows Museum, and was on display until January in the Royal Palace in Madrid.

“It is going to be very beneficial for the reputation of the museum. The exhibition presents a very high degree of scholar work. Dr. Jordan is the most important expert of Spanish Golden Age painting in the U.S.,” said Salvador Salort, senior curator of the Meadows Museum.

Parts of the exhibit have already arrived and Jordan said they will begin trickling in from different places, some pieces arriving as late as the week of the opening.

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