Symposium: Paintings of the Spanish Golden Age (2014)

Aukland Castle/The Bowes Museum/Durham University, 23-25 October 2014

University of York art historian Dr Cordula van Wyhe presented a paper at the three-day symposium Paintings of the Spanish Golden Age: The Collections of County Durham, organised by The Bowes Museum, Auckland Castle and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham University, and held across these three locations from 23-25 October 2014.

The symposium focused on the wealth of Spanish art in County Durham: from the Symposium programme,

Jointly organised by Auckland Castle, The Bowes Museum, and Durham University, this three-day symposium aims to highlight the outstanding collections of Spanish art held in County Durham. Internationally renowned academics and museum professionals will present a wide range of papers that will place these significant collections within their artistic, cultural, and historic context. The symposium will also be an opportunity to consider the reception of seventeenth-century Spanish art in Britain, marking the bicentenary of the arrival of Velázquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’ in Teesdale (now in the National Gallery, London).

'County Durham has historically been a hot spot for the collection and display of Spanish art, which fascinated influential figures such as Bishop Richard Trevor, John and Joséphine Bowes, and Frank Hall Standish. Today the results of this interest are to be found in the collections at The Bowes Museum and Auckland Castle, which together represent the most significant UK holdings of Spanish Golden Age art outside of London.’

Dr van Wyhe’s paper was entitled ‘Preliminary thoughts on materiality and spirituality in the works of Francisco de Zurbarán’. 

Jonathan Ruffer, Chairman of Auckland Castle Trust, gave the Welcome at Bishop Auckland on Day 1; and Adrian Jenkins, Director of The Bowes Museum, gave the Welcome on Day 2 at the Bowes.

Other speakers were: Dr Gabriele Finaldi (Associate Director of Curatorship and Research) and Dr Javier Portús (Senior Curator of Spanish Painting), from the Museo del Prado, Madrid; Dr Letizia Treves, Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600- 1800, The National Gallery, London; Dr Alastair Laing, former Curator of Pictures and Sculpture, National Trust; Anthony Mould, Fine Art Agent and Dealer; Dr Toby Osborne, Dr Tom StammersProfessor Andrew Beresford and Dr Stefano Cracolici of Durham University; Dr Itziar AranaReal Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid;  Dr Howard Coutts, Keeper of Ceramics, The Bowes Museum; Dr Xanthe Brooke, Senior Curator of Continental European Fine Art, Walker Art Gallery; Dr Véronique Gerard-Powell University of Paris-Sorbonne; Dr Lesley K. Twomey, University of Northumbria; Dr Hilary Macartney, University of Glasgow; and Professor Jeremy Robbins, University of Edinburgh.

Tours of the art collections at all three locations were included in the symposium, which ended with a round-table discussion on 'Engaging public interest in Spanish religious art’.

Main image: Francisco de Zurbarán, A Cup of Water and a Rose (detail), c. 1630, oil on canvas; ©National Gallery, London https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/francisco-de-zurbaran-a-cup-of-water-and-a-rose

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