The Meadows Museum unveils new exhibit

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The Meadows Museum proudly presents, “Royal Splendor In the Enlightenment: Charles IV of Spain, Patron and Collector,” and concurrent complementary exhibits “Contours of Empire: The World of Charles IV,” and “Goya and Lopez: Court Painters for Charles IV.”

The exhibition was made possible through the Meadows Museum’s collaboration with Patrimonio Nacional (the Spanish National Heritage), a Spanish government institution that manages Spain’s royal art collections, palaces and monasteries.

The exhibit is curated by Patrimonio Nacional, curators Dr. Javier Jordan de Urries y de la Colina and Dr. Jose Luis Sancho.

This is the first major exhibition to showcase the extensive art collection of King Charles IV of Spain (1748-1819), known to have had impeccable taste and a passion for the arts.
The Meadows Museum will be the only venue outside of Spain to host the exhibition, and many of the works in the collection have never traveled to the United States. 

The exhibition features more than 80 works of fine and decorative art from Charles IV, officially known as “King of Spain and Emperor of the Indies,” and his wife, and first cousin, Queen Maria Luisa reigned from 1788 to 1808, when they were forced into exile by Napoleon.

Their reign was at the end of the enlightenment period in Spain, and exemplified 18th-century opulence.

“During his reign, Charles IV created a highly sophisticated, refined and cosmopolitan court for which the arts played a major role,” Meadows Museum director Dr. Mark Roglan, in a press release, said.

“The combination of collecting works from the past as well as investing in those of the present, especially in the field of decorative arts, became part of the daily life of this king, whose artistic taste was among the finest in his time and in the history of the Spanish monarchy,” Roglan said.

Charles’ personal experiences influenced his choices and are reflected in the collection.
 Born in Naples in 1748, Charles had a fondness for Italian art.

There is also a variety of French art, due to the network of relations that linked the Bourbons of Versailles to those of Madrid in the 18th-century.

Queen Maria Luisa was also a granddaughter of the French King Louis XV.
The works encompass a variety of art including furniture, textiles, clocks, porcelains, paintings and sculptures.

They were selected from the Casas de Campo (country estates) and royal palaces of Madrid, Aranjuez, El Escorial and El Pardo.

The Spanish court moved among these palaces and country estates from season to season. Charles was very involved in the furnishing and decoration of his many homes.
Two of his royal residences in Madrid, El Pardo and El Escorial, are landmark construction of Spanish Neoclassical architecture, whose extravagant furnishings still remain.

Highlights of the collection on display include the queen’s gilded ceremonial throne with an 18-foot-tall embroidered canopy, an ornate sedan chair in which the queen was carried by footmen; the king’s shotgun made of wood, steel, gold and silver; a porcelain and enamel bird cage clock; and Neoclassical dessert centerpieces made of semi-precious stones, lapis lazuli, gilded bronze and enamel.

The exhibit also includes works by Francisco de Goya, who was the first court painter for Charles IV. His 1789 portrait of the king is making its only appearance outside of Madrid in 200 years.

Other works include a painting by Diego Velazquez, as well as paintings by Luis Melendez, Juan de Flandes, Anton Mengs and Giovvani Panini are on display as well.

The exhibition is being shown in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Galleries and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by the Meadows Museum.

A documentary is included that features HD video of the rooms and gardens of the palaces highlighted in the exhibition.

Concurrent exhibits, “Contours of Empire: The World of Charles IV,” and “Goya and Lopez: Court Painters for Charles IV,” add context and depth to the main attraction.

“Contours of Empire: The World of Charles IV,” includes rare books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers and more from SMU’s DeGolyer Library that help to illustrate what was going on during this dynamic time in history.

The exhibit is shown in the museum’s first floor galleries.

“Royal Splendor in the Enlightenment: Charles IV of Spain, Patron and Collector,” was organized by the Meadows Museum and Patrimonio Nacional, and was funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.

The Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Spain-USA Foundation and the Embassy of Spain, Washington, D.C provided additional support.

All three exhibits will be on display until July 18 at the Meadows Museum.

Additionally, a student gallery talk, “Francisco Goya, Public and Private,” will be led on Thursday, March 25 in the Virginia Meadows Galleries by Meadows art history student Anne Hargis.


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