A unique collection of drawings, personal correspondence with artists, and photographs amassed by American collector and connoisseur William Hood Stewart in the late 19th century has been acquired by the Meadows Museum, director Mark A. Roglán announced today. Stewart was an influential patron of the Modern Spanish School and the majority of the items in his personal album are letters written by prominent Spanish artists, many of whom became his close friends. The letters—many of which are illustrated and contain personal stories and business discussions—show the critical role Stewart played in the development of these artists’ careers. The album and a significant number of the letters will be on view in the Meadows Museum exhibition The Stewart Album: Art, Letters, and Souvenirs to an American Patron in Paris from August 25 – November 10, 2013. The journal was acquired thanks to gifts from The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Jo Ann Geurin Thetford (SMU ’69, ’70).
The Stewart album holds a collection of 370 photographs and includes 193 letters from artists, collectors, aristocrats, and dealers from Europe and the United States – among these are Jean-August-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), Jean-León Gérôme (1824-1904), and Mihály von Munkácsy (1844-1900). The majority of the letters were written by artists of the Modern Spanish School, particularly Mariano Fortuny i Marsal (1838-1874), Eduardo Zamacois y Zabala (1841-1871), Martín Rico y Ortega (1833-1908), and Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841-1920). These letters are a testament to Stewart’s connoisseurship, taste, and prominence in the international art scene of his time. The acquisition of this robust primary source will further advance the Meadows’ role as one of United States’ leading institutions for research and scholarship on Spanish art.
“Stewart’s collection of correspondence and images provides an intimate look into the careers and stylistic developments of artists who were the masters of the Modern Spanish School and who had a lasting impact on Spanish artists who came after them,” said Mark A. Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum. “The album is an incredible archival resource, and we look forward to welcoming scholars to the Museum to use it in their research. The addition of the album to our collection comes at a particularly exciting time—our current Martín Rico retrospective and upcoming Joaquín Sorolla exhibition allow us to show the influence Stewart, who fostered the taste for Spanish art, had on the artists he supported and subsequent generations of painters from Spain.”
The first museum retrospective of the work of Martín Rico, Impressions of Europe: 19th-Century Vistas by Martín Rico, is on view at the Meadows through July 7. The Museum currently is organizing Sorolla and America—December 13, 2013 through April 19, 2014—which will explore for the first time Sorolla’s unique relationship with the United States. Featuring works inspired by his experiences in, and personal connections to the United States, the exhibition will also look at how the Spanish painter was received by American audiences. Sorolla was part of the generation of artists inspired by the members of the Modern Spanish School represented in the Stewart Album, who showed that it was possible to establish successful careers beyond Spanish borders.
In 2009, the Meadows launched a partnership with the Prado, an unprecedented collaboration between a university art museum and a major international art institution. The partnership has included the exchange of scholars, research, works of art, and exhibitions. Following the success of the first three years of the partnership, the museums expanded their agreement in fall 2012, continuing their joint initiatives for an additional two years and adding two collaboratively developed exhibitions: Impressions of Europe, the fourth exhibition organized through the partnership, and an exhibition of Spanish drawings from the Hamburger Kunsthalle scheduled for 2014.
The Meadows Museum is the leading U.S. institution focused on the study and presentation of the art of Spain. In 1962, Dallas businessman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows donated his private collection of Spanish paintings, as well as funds to start a museum, to Southern Methodist University. The museum opened to the public in 1965, marking the first step in fulfilling Meadows’ vision to create a “Prado on the Prairie.” Today, the Meadows is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The collection spans from the 10th to the 21st century, and includes medieval objects, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, and major paintings by Golden Age and modern masters.