The Prince of Wales and the Queen of Spain opened an art exhibition in the North East of England today. The Royal Family have teamed up to open the exhibition of Francisco de Zurbarán’s paintings of Jacob and his twelve sons at Auckland Castle Spanish gallery.
Auckland Castle – never a royal castle, but the residence of the Bishops of Durham – has for centuries housed full-length portraits of the Spanish painter Zurbarán of the Biblical Jacob and 11 of his 12 sons. The paintings were nearly sold by the Church of England in 2010, but philanthropist and investor Jonathan Ruffer decided to buy them, along with Auckland Castle itself.
Today marked the opening of the Spanish Gallery, the UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain. Therefore, it was natural for the British and Spanish royals to show up together to open it.
According to the Frick-Collectionartist Francisco de Zurbarán helped define Seville’s Golden Age, working in the 1620s and 1630s to produce “monumental multi-figure paintings as well as series of single-figure works depicting saints, apostles and various other subjects for ecclesiastical institutions and palaces throughout Spain and the spanish colonies.“
Yet by the 1640s Seville’s economy declined. Therefore, according to the Frick, Zurbarán “increasingly turned to the Latin American market, supplying commissioned paintings to churches, monasteries, and wealthy individuals, while also selling studio pieces in the free market of Buenos Aires and Lima, in Peru. Between 1640 and 1645, Zurbarán and his assistants produced the remarkable series Jacob and his twelve sons.” Zurbarán’s Jacob and Son series is the cornerstone of Auckland Castle’s Spanish Gallery.
Prince Charles and Queen Letizia have previously opened art exhibitions together – in 2019 they appeared together to celebrate the work of Spanish impressionist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida at the National Gallery in London.
The Spanish Gallery hope to be the “Prado du Nord”, in reference to the National Museum of Spanish Art in Madrid.
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