Jaume Lanaspa, General Manager of la Caixa Foundation; Rafael Ripoll, Autonomous Secretary for Culture and Sport of the Government of Valencia; Xavier Solà, Secretary General, Ministry of Culture, Government of Catalonia, and Tomàs Llorens and Boye Llorens, curators of the exhibition, present Portraits of the Belle Époque at CaixaForum Barcelona. This presentation was also attended by Elisa Durán, Assistant General Manager of la Caixa Foundation.
An anthology brought together for the first time
Portraits of the Belle Époque is the fruit of the cooperation agreement established between the Consortium of Museums
of the Community of Valencia and la Caixa Welfare Projects, which was signed in September 2010 to the purpose of jointly producing the exhibition. This is the first time the two institutions have joined forces to jointly organise a show.
The exhibition features seventy-six works by forty artists. Three generations are painters are represented in the selection: the precursors, born in the 1830s, and including Giovanni Boldini; the intermediate generation which accounts for the largest proportion of the works featured formed by artists born in the 1850s, such as Sargent, Sorolla, Zorn, Corinth, Munch, Repin, Serov, Vrubel and Toulouse-Lautrec; and artists born in the 1870s Vuillard, Kokoschka, Schiele and Kirchner, amongst others.
Nearly thirty museums and institutions from twelve countries have loaned works for the exhibition, including, amongst others: from Spain, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Sorolla Museum, the National Heritage and the Casa de Alba Foundation; from Italy, the Giovanni Boldini Museum and the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; from New York, the Metropolitan Museum and The Hispanic Society; from Austria, the Leopold Museum of Vienna; from Norway, the Nasjonalgalleriet of Oslo; from Sweden, the Nationalmuseum of Stockholm; from Switzerland, the Musée dArt Moderne du Petit Palais; from London, Royal Academy and Tate Britain; from Albi, Musée de Toulouse-Lautrec; and from Russia, The State Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow. The show will also features works from private collections in Madrid, Barcelona, London, New York and Norway.
The closing decades of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th were marked by enormous and far-reaching changes in the history of European painting. These changes affected both the stylistic conventions of the art of painting and the framework for the relations between the painter and his or her audience and market. The portrait was the genre that reflected these changes most deeply. As the academic tradition entered into a period of decadence, sustained economic expansion and the new forms for social intercourse generated by the growth of the great cities fuelled rising demand for portraits. This phenomenon spread rapidly around Europe, and new international aesthetic conventions were formed to imbue the portrait with a
singular, easily-recognisable artistic style.
The exhibition Portraits of the Belle Époque takes visitors on a journey through this genre, which was not only amongst the most important during this period, but also suggests iconographic and psychological keys that illustrate the connections between
the history of painting and cultural and social history at the turn of the 20th century. It does this through seventy-six works by such artists as Giovanni Boldini, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, John Singer Sargent, Egon Schiele, Joaquín Sorolla and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, loaned by some thirty museums and institutions in twelve countries.