10 artists you need to know in the Spain and the Hispanic World exhibition

Published 16 January 2023

With over 150 treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library’s collection to discover, get to know some of the artists in our new exhibition.

    • Francisco de Goya, The Duchess of Alba

      Francisco de Goya, The Duchess of Alba, 1797.

      Oil on canvas. 210.3 x 149.3 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      1. Francisco de Goya

      One of Spain’s leading artists, Francisco de Goya is responsible for some of the most iconic works from the 18th and 19th centuries. Born in Fuendetodos, he first trained with local artists in the nearby city of Zaragoza before continuing his studies in Madrid and Italy. In the Spanish capital, he painted designs for the Royal Tapestry Factory and became a successful portraitist to the aristocracy, including Charles III of Spain.

      After recovering from a mysterious illness contracted in Andalucía in 1792, Goya’s style underwent a dramatic transformation. Experimenting with smaller paintings, drawings and prints, he created vivid images that evoked the darker aspects of humanity and reflected the turbulence of the times, from the horrors of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain (1808–14) to the re-establishment of the Bourbon dynasty under Ferdinand VII.

      Of the hundreds of known Goya drawings and paintings, one of his most recognisable images, The Duchess of Alba, resides in the Hispanic Society Museum & Library’s covered courtyard. Signed in the sand with the words ‘Solo Goya’ (‘Only Goya’), this painting had great personal significance for the artist, who kept it in his studio long after the Duchess’s death.

    • Diego Velázquez, Portrait of a Girl

      Diego Velázquez, Portrait of a Girl, c. 1638-42.

      Oil on canvas. 51.5 x 41 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      2. Diego Velázquez

      More than a century before Goya arrived on the scene, Diego Velázquez made a name for himself as a master portraitist in Spain. Velázquez started his career in Seville – where he was born – before moving to Madrid where he became court painter to Philip IV of Spain.

      During his years in service of the Spanish monarchy, he portrayed many notable figures, including the ruthless and hard-working Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, as well as lesser-known people, including the sitter in Portrait of a Girl, whose identity remains unknown.

      Velázquez’s depiction of Olivares is typical of his portraits from the 1620s, in which the artist combines Caravaggesque lighting with Baroque touches while paying careful attention to details that establish the sitter’s rank.

    • El Greco, The Penitent St Jerome

      El Greco, The Penitent St Jerome, c. 1600.

      Oil on canvas. 80 x 65 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      3. El Greco

      A major figure of the Spanish Renaissance, Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco, ‘The Greek’, was born in 1541 in Crete, then part of the Venetian empire. Trained in the local late Byzantine style, he studied the works of Titian in Venice before moving to Rome around 1570, where he was influenced by the works of Michelangelo.

      Around 1576, El Greco went to Spain, seeking the patronage of Philip II of Spain, with no success. Instead, he found patronage from the Church, securing a commission to create works for the Church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo.

      In Spain, he continued to explore the stylistic possibilities of Mannerism, and his works, expressive yet with often surprisingly naturalistic touches, were in high demand during the Counter Reformation.

    • Francisco de Zurbarán, St Emerentiana

      Francisco de Zurbarán, St Emerentiana, c. 1635–40.

      Oil on canvas. 171.5 x 105.5 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      4. Francisco de Zurbarán

      Back in Madrid, Velázquez wasn’t the only painter to come into contact with Count-Duke of Olivares. Francisco de Zurbarán was called upon by Olivares to participate in the decoration of the Buen Retiro Palace in 1634.

      Son of a fabric shop owner, Zurbarán was born in the remote Extremaduran town of Fuente de Cantos in 1598 and moved to Seville to learn painting and eventually set up a workshop that produced religious paintings for patrons in Seville and Andalucía.

      After the plague of 1649, the desperate financial situation in Seville prompted Zurbarán to export pictures to Latin America, leading to him becoming a principal influence on several schools of Latin American colonial art.

      Zurbarán is best known for his single-figure images of saints, such as St Emerentiana, the patron saint of the city of Teruel in Aragon. The rich fabrics refer to her glory in paradise and no doubt recall the fabrics in Zurbarán’s father’s trade.

    • Sebastián López de Arteaga, St Michael Striking Down the Rebellious Angels

      Sebastián López de Arteaga, St Michael Striking Down the Rebellious Angels, c. 1650-52.

      Oil on copper. 103.5 x 88 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      5. Sebastián López de Arteaga

      A contemporary of Zurbarán, Sebastián López de Arteaga was also born and trained in Seville. From 1630, he managed an atelier with three apprentices until he moved to Cádiz and later emigrated to Mexico.

      Arteaga is best known as one of the artists who brought the tenebrist-naturalist school of early Baroque painting – originally under the influence of the Italian master, Caravaggio – from Seville to his new home in Mexico.

      In the 1650s, he created a particularly large painting on copper, St Michael Striking Down the Rebellious Angels, which shows an entirely different aspect to Arteaga’s work than the Caravaggesque works of his early career.

    • Andrea de Mena, Mater Dolorosa

      Andrea de Mena, Mater Dolorosa, 1675.

      Polychrome wood. 17 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      6. Andrea de Mena

      Like many other women artists in the 17th century, Andrea de Mena, could not sign contracts in her own name or act as an independent professional.

      Daughter of sculptor Pedro de Mena, she was able to play a significant role working in her father’s workshop and later at the Cistercian convent of St Anne at Málaga. In 1675, Andrea made Mater Dolorosa and Ecce Homo, two statuettes portraying the Virgin’s anguish and Christ’s suffering, revealing that she didn’t stop carving after becoming a nun.

    • Attributed to Manuel Chili, called Caspicara, The Four Fates of Man: Death, Soul in Hell, Soul in Purgatory, Soul in Heaven

      Attributed to Manuel Chili, called Caspicara, The Four Fates of Man: Death, Soul in Hell, Soul in Purgatory, Soul in Heaven, c. 1775.

      Polychrome wood, glass and metal. 17.9 x 11.8 x 8.4 cm, 17.9 × 14.5 × 8 cm, 16.9 × 11.1 × 12.3 cm, 17.6 × 11 × 12.3 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      7. Manuel Chili, called Caspicara

      Little is known about Manuel Chili, called Caspicara, the leading sculptor in Quito at the end of the 18th century. Even though its authorship isn’t completely certain, the set of four half-length figures The Four Fates of Man: Death; Soul in Hell; Soul in Purgatory; Soul in Heaven has been attributed to him because of their exquisite mastery and style. The sculptures present Catholic teaching on eschatology, the fate of man after death. At the time, it was believed that death marked the separation of body and soul.

      No comparable set of four carved figures is known today so it becomes difficult to reconstruct their intended setting, but they were most likely carved for private devotion within a small altar.

    • José Agustín Arrieta, El Costeño (The Young Man from the Coast)

      José Agustín Arrieta, El Costeño (The Young Man from the Coast), c. 1843.

      Oil on canvas. 89 × 71 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      8. José Agustín Arrieta

      José Agustín Arrieta is best-known for his costumbrista paintings, depicting scenes of everyday life in his native Mexico. Born near Tlaxcala in 1803, Arrieta trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Puebla, a city where he spent his entire career.

      His artworks follow a tradition of popular figure representations in Mexican painting going back to the late 17th century and including the castas series in the 18th century, which depicted the diverse ethnic mix of colonial Mexico.

      One of Arrieta’s most outstanding achievements is El Costeño, a painting of a young man – traditionally identified in the 19th century as coming from the Gulf Coast region near Veracruz – shown holding a basket of typical Mexican tropical fruits as though bringing it to an employer’s table or a customer’s home.

    • Joaquín Sorolla, After the Bath

      Joaquín Sorolla, After the Bath, 1908.

      Oil on canvas. 176 x 111.5 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      9. Joaquín Sorolla

      Known as Spain’s painter of light, Joaquín Sorolla is best known for his images of beach scenes, which he started painting in 1903 on the coastlines of Spain and France, particularly at La Malvarrosa, El Cabañal, and Las Arenas, just north of Valencia.

      Like other artists of his generation, Sorolla drew his figures from life, using his knowledge of antiquity and his training at the Spanish Academy in Rome. Many of his scenes are painted with expressive brushwork and make use of high horizon lines, steep angles of view, and a radical sense of cropping.

      From January to May 1911, Sorolla was in the United States for a second exhibition organised by Archer Milton Huntington, the founder of the Hispanic Society. As he had done in 1909, Sorolla took advantage of his visit to America to seek portrait commissions, particularly in Chicago and New York, where he painted Louis Comfort Tiffany, President of Tiffany Studios and son of the founder of Tiffany and Company.

    • Ignacio Zuloaga, The Family of the Gypsy Bullfighter

      Ignacio Zuloaga, The Family of the Gypsy Bullfighter, 1903.

      Oil on canvas. 220 x 205 cm. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

      10. Ignacio Zuloaga

      In contrast with Spain’s painter of light, Ignacio Zuloaga’s work presented a unique vision of a dark tradition-laden Spain. Born in Éibar, into an artistic family that had specialised in damascene metalwork, the Basque painter trained in Paris from 1888. In the French capital, he met many of the most celebrated cultural figures of the time, including Auguste Rodin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas.

      Although Paris remained the focus of Zuloaga’s career, he frequently returned to Spain, most often to visit Segovia where his ceramic artist uncle Daniel Zuloaga lived, and who would exert a strong influence on him.

      Bullfighters are numerous in Zuloaga’s oeuvre. For example, his painting The Family of the Gypsy Bullfighter offers a striking vision of Spain and its bullfighting culture in the early 20th century. It’s a tour-de-force of psychological representation, with each character offering a different personality, especially the central figure – the materfamilias. She’s looking at her grandson, with an expectation that he will continue the family tradition in the ring.

    • Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa, Girls of Burriana (Falleras)

      Book tickets to 'Spain and the Hispanic World'

      21 January — 10 April 2023

      Discover the rich story of Spanish and Hispanic art and culture in our first major exhibition of 2023. With over 150 treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York coming to the UK for the first time, see masterpieces by Goya, Velázquez and Sorolla, as well as dazzling objects from Latin America – and much more.