In Spain, Flemish Art is Local
From the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, rulers and aristocrats throughout Europe collected paintings made in the Southern Netherlands, which they regarded as artistic treasures on a par with those from Italy. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Spain. These rulers range from John II of Castile and Alfonso V of Aragon – who met Jan Van Eyck en route to the Iberian Peninsula in the early fifteenth century – to King Philip IV of Spain, who amassed over a hundred paintings by Rubens during the artist’s lifetime. Works produced in Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Malines, Leuven, and above all Antwerp, defined artistic standards and ideals in Madrid. Today, the Prado has more paintings from Antwerp than from any other city with the exception of Madrid itself. It also houses the largest existing collections of works by Bosch, Patinir, and Rubens, besides many other highlights by masters including Rogier van der Weyden, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Most of these paintings came to Spain as purchases from second-generation owners – or directly from the painter in the case of the Antwerp master. This talk will trace the collecting history of these paintings, and reflect on its implications for the geography of art in Europe.
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Dr. Alejandro Vergara is Senior Curator of Flemish and Northern European Paintings at Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. He studied art history at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and received a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He has been a curator at the Prado since 1999 and has occupied his current post since 2003. He has published extensively on Flemish sixteenth and seventeenth-century paintings and has curated a number of exhibitions at the Prado and other museums. Recent exhibitions include The Art of Clara Peeters (Antwerp and Madrid, 2016), Pure Rubens and Rubens. Painter of Sketches (Rotterdam and Madrid, 2018-2019) together with Friso Lammertse, Mirades afines. Vélazquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer (Madrid, 2019), and Mythological Passions: Tiziano, Veronese, Allori, Rubens, Ribera, Poussin, Van Dyck, Vélazquez (Madrid, 2021) with Miguel Falomir.