Founded in 1959 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the Museo de Arte de Ponce (MAP) includes more than 3,600 works of art from Europe, Latin America, and Puerto Rico. Masterpieces of European Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce presents sixty of the museum’s most extraordinary Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French, British, German, and Austrian paintings dating from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. This traveling exhibition marks the first time that an extensive selection of works from MAP has been presented in the United States. The opportunity arose from the temporary closure of the museum, which is now undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
Luis A. Ferré (1904–2003), a native of Ponce and the founder of MAP, conceived of the museum after his first trip to Europe in 1950. Ferré was a successful industrialist, philanthropist, and gifted pianist who served as governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 1968 to 1972. Of his many accomplishments, he considered MAP to be the most important. With a limited budget and the advice of art historian Julius Held (1905–2002), Ferré sought out and acquired paintings of high quality and displayed a remarkable lack of concern for prevailing tastes and fashions of the time. He wanted the collection to impart a sense of discovery for scholars, artists, and especially the general public. Masterpieces of European Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce affirms the pioneering nature of Ferré’s vision.