20 September 2012 – 6 January 2013
This exhibition, drawn from the British Museum collection, brings together for the first time important prints and drawings by Spanish and other European artists who were working in Spain from the mid-sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Through exhibiting these works, many of which have never before been on display, the exhibition will provide new insights into the visual culture and history of Spain, a country renowned for its painting and architecture, but not so well known for its graphic arts in comparison to its European counterparts, Italy and France.
The exhibition begins exploring the mid-sixteenth century with the building of Philip II’s monastery of the Escorial near Madrid that drew a large number of foreign artists, mainly Italian. The internationalism of Spain in the sixteenth century is key to understanding the nature of the work made at this time. The first part of the exhibition will be devoted to the foreign artists who worked in Spain, such as the Italians Pellegrino Tibaldi and Federico Zuccaro. The engravings made by the Flemish printmaker Pedro Perret in Madrid depicting the Escorial are among the most remarkable architectural prints from the sixteenth century. However, whilst foreign influence may be unmistakable, artistic groups in Spain maintained their own traditions, and the process by which the Spanish absorbed the work of foreign artists is a complex one.