The Meadows Museum at SMU has acquired a major work by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), Portrait of Mariano Goya, the Artist’s Grandson, painted in 1827. The work — which has not been on display for more than 40 years — is one of Goya’s last paintings, finished just months before his death. This portrait will be unveiled to the public on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 10:30 am. Portrait of Mariano Goya depicts Goya’s only grandson and is one of fewer than a dozen portraits known to have been painted by Goya between 1820 and his death in 1828. Funding for the acquisition was provided by The Meadows Foundation and a gift from Mrs. Eugene McDermott, in honor of the Meadows Museum’s 50th anniversary.
The Meadows has one of the foremost collections of Spanish art in the world — spanning the 10th through 21st centuries — enabling the museum to present this masterwork within the context of the historic sweep of art from Spain. As a leader in research on the art of Spain, the Meadows will foster scholarship on the new Goya work and its significance. The portrait will be on view at the Meadows beginning October 9.
At the time the portrait was painted, Goya had been living in Bordeaux for three years under voluntary exile, believed to be due to his antipathy to the absolutist rule of King Ferdinand VII. Goya made a final visit in 1827 to Madrid, where he painted this portrait before dying in 1828 at age 81. The work exemplifies the portraiture style Goya developed late in his career, when he had stopped painting commissioned portraits. These later works are marked by simplified compositions that allow for an unfiltered engagement between sitter and viewer, a departure from the formality that marked many of his commissioned works.
“The Meadows Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, and the acquisition of this extraordinary work by Goya is a wonderful way to begin that celebration,” said Mark A. Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts, SMU. “Mariano’s image possesses an ethereal quality that softens his features and hints at Goya’s deep love for his grandson. This portrait marks a bridge between tradition and modernity. Painted five years before the birth of Édouard Manet, a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, Mariano’s portrait anticipates many characteristics of modernity, such as the painterly quality of the brushstrokes, the effortless technique, and the capacity to depict the psychology of the sitter. It’s hard to find a better example of this shift, and it becomes a critical element to understand the transition between Old Masters and modern painting, and how seminal the figure of Goya is to the understanding and appreciation of this critical moment in the history of art. The work stands at the pivotal last phase of Goya’s career and will serve as a linchpin in our growing collection. Indeed the acquisition of the Goya caps off many notable additions to our collection this year and marks a new phase in achieving Algur H. Meadows’ dream to create a ‘small Prado in Texas.’”
“The Meadows Museum is a point of pride for SMU, and this new Goya acquisition adds to the strength of the museum’s distinguished collection,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful to The Meadows Foundation and Mrs. Eugene McDermott for their generosity in making this outstanding acquisition possible. The historic partnership between SMU and The Meadows Foundation has resulted in a museum and arts school of international distinction. The Meadows Museum enhances the education of SMU students and enriches the larger community through its permanent collections, special exhibitions, and educational programming.”
In addition to the new acquisition, the Meadows’ collection includes five other Goya paintings and complete, first-edition sets of all of his major print series. This acquisition will enable the museum to more thoroughly contextualize those works for both research and exhibition purposes. It will be especially helpful in providing context for Goya’s four-print series Bulls of Bordeaux which was made in 1825, just two years prior to the portrait.
“Adding a sixth Goya painting to the Meadows Museum’s collection is a great way to honor Algur H. Meadows — the founder of both the Meadows Museum and The Meadows Foundation — on the eve of the museum’s 50th anniversary,” said Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of The Meadows Foundation. “This singular work further strengthens the museum’s role as one of the leading institutions for Spanish art in the U.S., and we are thrilled to be part of enabling this wonderful acquisition. The Museum’s robust collection will allow the Meadows to position the painting within the full lineage of the development of Spanish art, making the museum a perfect home for this masterpiece.”
The Meadows Museum is planning a range of special exhibitions, initiatives, and events leading up to the celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2015. In 2013, a robust acquisition initiative has added works from many periods to the collection, including an oil sketch by Joaquin Sorolla from the early 20th> century, an early 18th-century terracotta sculpture from Spain, and six other works, as well as a unique album of cartes de visite, drawings and correspondence compiled by prominent 19th-century collector William H. Stewart. As a result of these and many other acquisitions over the decades, the Meadows’ collection of paintings has nearly doubled in size since the death of the museum’s founder in 1978.
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 establish a museum, to Southern Methodist University. The museum, which opened to the public in 1965, today is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The collection includes medieval objects, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, and major paintings by Golden Age and modern masters. Through the years, The Meadows Foundation has continued to provide generous support for the Meadows Museum and Meadows School of the Arts at SMU.