Treasures from the Hispanic Society at the Prado Museum

  • Culture

Treasures from the Hispanic Society at the Prado Museum

The documents at the exhibition include a Portolan chart and a world map by Juan Vespucci. Photo: Prado Museum.
The documents at the exhibition include a Portolan chart and a world map by Juan Vespucci. Photo: Prado Museum.

The Prado Museum offers the chance to travel through 4000 years of Spanish art, history and culture by exploring the treasures from the Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library, based in New York.

‘Treasures from the Hispanic Society of America. Visions of the Hispanic World’, running through 10 September, includes 218 works from the Hispanic Society huge collection. The institution was founded in 1904 by American philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington for the advancement of the study of Spanish culture in America.

With the support of BBVA Foundation, the Prado Museum is exhibiting paintings, drawings, sculptures, archaeological artefacts and decorative objects, textiles and pieces of furniture, as well as manuscripts and documents, organised chronologically and thematically, inviting museum-goers to see many of the invaluable treasures in the Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library collection.

Some of the outstanding paintings on display are Goya’s The Duchess of Alba, specially restored for this exhibition with the support of the Prado Museum and Iberdrola Foundation, El Greco’s Pieta, or Gaspar de Guzmán, Conde-Duque de Olivares, by Velázquez. In addition, there are paintings by modernist and post-modernist artists like Zuloaga or Sorolla, whom the founder of the Hispanic Society admired so much.

The exhibition includes works that have never been shown before, like reliquary busts of St Martha and St Mary Magdalene by Juan de Juni or the polychrome wood, glass and metal group titled Fates of Man, attributed to Ecuadoran Manuel Chili, aka Caspicara.

The documents that can be seen at the exhibition include an extraordinary Biblia sacra iuxta vulgatam versionem, the Instructions from Emperor Charles V to his son Philip, the Letter to Philip II of Spain from Elizabeth I Queen of England, as well as extraordinary maps like a Portolan chart or a world map by Juan Vespucci.

With more than 18,000 works of art from the Palaeolithic to the twentieth century, and a library housing more than 250,000 manuscripts and 35,000 rare books,including 250 incunabula, the Hispanic Society owns the most important collection of Spanish art outside Spain.