Newsroom

March 28, 2008

Meadows exhibit reveals 500-year-old secrets

DALLAS (SMU) – For the first time in the United States, researchers have undertaken an extensive study of a 15th-century Spanish cathedral altarpiece, and in the process,


Related Links:
 • See comparison showing paintings and underdrawings
 • Read more about the exhibit
 • Visit the exhibit website
have unlocked 500 years of secrets involving art, literature, history and religion. Their findings, along with the entire group of stunning, historically significant paintings that comprise the altarpiece, are the subject of a special exhibition at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University.

Fernando Gallego and His Workshop: The Altarpiece from Ciudad Rodrigo, Paintings from the Collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art, which will be on display through July 27, 2008, focuses on 26 surviving panels from the main altarpiece for the cathedral of Ciudad Rodrigo in Castile, Spain, created between 1480 and 1500.

The research findings, which include scans and X-rays of the paintings’ underdrawings, will be on exhibit along with the panels, which have survived earthquakes, war, neglect, sale and re-sale before reaching the Meadows Museum.

The panels, in oil and tempera, are considered one of the most important groups of artworks produced in late 15th-century Spain. They depict major events from Genesis, the life of Christ, and the Last Judgment, and are remarkable for their size (some nearly five feet tall and three and a half feet wide), number and sheer beauty.

They rank among the most ambitious works by two of Spain’s most gifted painters of the period: Fernando Gallego and the hitherto virtually unknown Master Bartolomé. Such "master painters" often commanded large and dynamic workshops with apprentice artists, working together to undertake monumental commissions like the Ciudad Rodrigo altarpiece.

The panels are part of the Samuel H. Kress Collection and were given to the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson in 1957. Their exhibition at the Meadows Museum marks the first time they have been displayed outside of Tucson in the 50 years since, and is made possible by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation, with additional support for the study and publication from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York.

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