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Major show of Spanish art heading to ABQ

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Four thousand years of Spanish art, including major works by Goya, Velázquez and El Greco, are coming to the Albuquerque Museum next year.

“Treasures From the Hispanic Society of America” will open on Nov. 10, 2018, and hang through March 2019. Albuquerque will be the first U.S. city to host the traveling display of world-renowned works of art.

The 200 pieces, including sculpture, fiber, jewelry and documents, are currently on view at Madrid’s El Prado Museum. The Madrid show has drawn more than 150,000 spectators since April.

These important pieces of Spanish heritage are on loan from New York’s Hispanic Society of America, which is currently undergoing a $16 million renovation.

Albuquerque’s showing of the exhibition will be funded by the combined efforts of the local museum and its foundation, said Andrew Connors, its curator of art.

Connors declined to identify the total cost.

“The foundation will have to raise quite a bit for their part in this,” he said, adding, “The board is just thrilled.”

The collection spans prehistoric times and includes Islamic, Jewish and Celto-Iberian art, as well as the familiar Old Masters.

“It was amazing how all these cultures coexisted,” Connors said.

It wasn’t until 1492 that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled the Moors and Jews from Spain, he added.

The Islamic art includes textiles of silk and jacquard.

“You can see great Islamic objects next to a Hebrew Bible,” Connors said.

The documents include a 1559 signed decree from England’s Queen Elizabeth I to Spain’s King Phillip II.

“It’s basically an order saying, ‘Don’t you dare send your troops against us,’ ” Connors said.

The exhibition features two paintings by Diego Velázquez, including a portrait of a little girl.

“It’s a spectacular, incredibly beautiful portrait,” Connors said. “We don’t know who she is. We’re so used to his big, huge statements, and to see this intimate portrait of this young woman is revealing.”

The show also includes two large-format paintings by El Greco and two major paintings by Francisco Goya, as well as some of the latter’s ink washes and drawings.

Connors learned about the Prado show when he was attending a New York conference and ran into the Hispanic Society’s curator, Marcus Burke, earlier this year.

He asked Burke where the exhibition would go after the Madrid show, and the curator said he hoped to tour it both nationally and internationally.

One alabaster sculpture could become a local favorite: it’s the funerary monument to the duchess of Alburquerque, ancestor to the duke who gave the city its name in 1706.