Kunsthal Sint Pietersabdij (Gent) and Cabildo Insular de La Palma
Fernando Checa, Art History Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Former Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado
Exhibition information by Fernando Checa
The Flemish paintings and sculptures preserved on the Island of La Palma since the 16th century are one of the Canary Islands’ most important and least known artistic heritages. Following several years of in-depth artistic and historical studies and very thorough and well-documented restoration work, La Palma Council and the Fundación Carlos de Amberes have decided to make this heritage known
through this exhibition, which will be shown in Madrid, Ghent and Santa Cruz de la Palma.
The aim is to place in their proper international context a very significant number of works of art, almost all of which are preserved in situ in various island sanctuaries.
Originating from the imports made by the Flemish landowners who settled in La Palma to engage in sugar cultivation during the 15th and 16th centuries, these works of art are an unbeatable example of one of the most significant periods in European art of the beginning of the Modern Age—the existence in Flanders (Brussels, Antwerp, Mechelen…) of a thriving industry for the export of altarpieces, sculptures and paintings which, as is well known, soon inundated Europe from the north and centre of the continent, reaching as far as Castile, Portugal and the Canary Islands.
The exhibition aims to place this period in Flemish art in the context of the Atlantic trade routes. It therefore comprises not only a large number of items from La Palma island, which form its centrepiece, but also other Flemish works from Belgium, Spain and Portugal in order to draw visitors to the similarities between items produced by the same workshop and the existence of series, types and common models.
The exhibition stresses the fact that one of the most common links between Europeans —trade— acquires even greater significance in this case through highly aesthetic works of art that express the particular spirituality and devotion of the age. It also explores one of the major themes in Art History that is especially relevant to today’s world: the dialectics between creation and originality, on the one hand, and between copying and the production of series, on the other, through a number of comparisons, mostly unprecedented, of works of art from Flanders, the Iberian Peninsula, the Portuguese islands and the Canary islands.
International Congress on Flemish art on the Atlantic sugar route
This exhibition in Madrid, Ghent and Santa Cruz de La Palma, designed by the Fundación Carlos de Amberes on the initiative of the Council of the Island of La Palma, is part of a broader project to study the art Flemish landowners left behind on La Palma island in the 16th century and includes, in addition to the exhibitions and their catalogue, the International Congress on Flemish art on the Atlantic sugar route. Study and conservation of a common European heritage (University of Lisbon, 14-16 April 2005). A book with the lectures of the Congress will be published in September 2005.
Two catalogues of the exhibition are being published, both of them fully illustrated:
1. There is a extensive version in Spanish with the following contents:
- F. Checa, ‘El fruto de la fe. Escultura flamenca en la isla de La Palma’
- R. Pieper, ‘Las haciendas del azúcar: entre el Mediterráneo y el Atlántico. Sevilla y la baja Andalucía en una encrucijada de redes superregionales (1550 – 1650)’
- J.G. Everaert, ‘Flandes y La Palma’
- A. Vińa, ‘La fortuna y el poder de los Monteverde en La Palma en el siglo XVI’
- J. Pérez Morera, ‘Los hacendados flamencos y su descendencia. Paisajes, arquitecturas y organización espacial de los heredamientos de Argual y Tazacorte’
- B. Baert, Arte Flamenco. De Flandes a la Palma: el pensamiento petrificado. A propósito de la tercera dimensión en la teoría de la imagen medieval’
- P. Vandenbroeck, ‘Vírgenes canarias. Estudio de un encuentro cultural’
- R. Didier, ‘Reflexiones sobre la escultura de los antiguos Países Bajos meridionales a principios del siglo XVI’
- F. Grilo, ‘Flandes y Portugal. La escultura de influencia nórdica en el Portugal de los descubrimientos’
- P. Huvenne, ‘Pourbus El Viejo y su obra’
- I. Concepción Rodríguez e I. Santos Gómez, ‘Catálogo: Estudio técnico y comparativo del legado flamenco en la isla de La Palma’
- C. Negrín Delgado, I. Concepción Rodríguez e I. Santos Gómez, ‘Fichas documentales y técnicas’
2. The contents of the other volume, published in Spanish, Dutch and English, are:
- F. Checa, ‘El fruto de la fe. Flemish Sculpture on the Island of La Palma’
- Catalogue (Life of the Virgin and Jesus’ Childhood, The Virgin and Child, The Passion Of Christ, Saints, Altarpiece Wings)
- List of works
The exhibition is sponsored mainly by La Palma Council with the support of the Bishopric of Tenerife and the Vicariate of La Palma. It is further funded by the European Commission (Education and Culture – Culture 2000), Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior (SEACEX), the town of Ghent, Fortis Bank, the regional government of the Canary Islands and Virgin Express.