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Romantic Spain: David Roberts and Genaro Pérez Villaamil

An exhibition curated by Claudia Hopkins in association with the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica (CEEH). Originally scheduled to open at the Real Academia de Bellas de San Fernando in Madrid on 30 September 2020, the exhibition has been postponed until September 2021.

Genaro Pérez Villaamil, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsThe Scottish David Roberts (1796–1864) and the Galician artist Genaro Pérez Villaamil (1807–1854) were giants in topographical art in the Romantic era. Between them they generated several hundred views of Spanish landscapes and monuments – castles, cathedrals, convents, palaces – often with a flavour of local traditional culture. Fully versed in the aesthetic conventions of the Picturesque and the Sublime, Roberts and Pérez Villaamil helped form a Romantic image of Spain in the nineteenth century, one that still colours the perception of the country today.

Roberts’s impact on Pérez Villaamil has long been noted by critics but there is no consensus when it comes to its importance and nature. This is the first exhibition to explore the artistic relations between the two artists in-depth, starting with their first meeting in Seville in the summer, 1833. Rejecting the term ‘influence’ as a concept, the exhibition will reveal similarities and uncover vital differences in their approach, selection of subjects, their imaginations and their cultural attitudes to Spain. The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue, with innovative research essays by Claudia Hopkins and invited authors: Antonio Gámiz Gordo, Andrew Ginger, Briony Llewellyn, Matilde Mateo, Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, Carlos Sánchez, Martin Sorowka.

Image: Vista del interior de una catedral, de Genaro Pérez Villaamil (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando), via Wikimedia Commons