27/11/2022

1856 Madrid ES – Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes

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1856 Madrid

Name:Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes
Dates:1856-1899
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Before 1856, each academy in Spain typically held its own arts competition among current and former students, but there was little interaction or knowledge of the work being done by artists in other academies.

In 1856, sweeping legislation simultaneously established a national art competition and a nationwide art education system. These Exposiciónes were in the form of a competition, established by a Royal Decree from Queen Isabella II in 1853. It was initially divided into five categories: Painting, Sculpture, Engraving, Architecture, and Decorative Arts. Painting was always considered the most prestigious category, however, and Decorative Arts was only occasional. Although the decree specified that they were to be held biennially, this was not always strictly observed. The exhibition was maintained in largely the same form until the 1920s, although the frequency became erratic; sometimes every two years, sometimes every three. There were also longer intervals due to political and social disruptions; notably the Spanish Civil War.

In 1856, the first Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes was held. It was the Spanish equivalent of the Salon des Beaux Arts. Eighteen Exposiciónes were held between 1856 until the end of the century, with more than ninety-five percent of top prizes awarded to large, multifigural history paintings.

Christopher Columbus in the
Convent of La Rábida, Eduardo Cano, 1856

The 1856 event was the largest official exhibition of Spanish art. The winners of the Firrst Class medal in Painting were Eduardo Cano’s, Christopher Columbus in the Convent of La Rábida and Luis de Madrazo’s, Don Pelayo in Covadonga.

The subsequent money that poured into Spanish art from government coffers attracted a deluge of new artists dependent on governmental institutions.

Holding the biennial contest in the capital eventually led to a Madrid-centric arts culture in Spain and what could be considered a national style of art. Talented artists departed from regional academies for the capital, and the plurality of regional styles were subsumed by those that would be successful on the national stage.

These public Exposiciónes were the raison d’être for Spanish history paintings and were overseen by Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (1815-1894). Madrazo adapted French academic artistic training and oversaw its implementation in eighteen regional academies of fine art. In addition, the government opened a school in Rome for Spanish painting in 1873 and granted scholarships to promising new artists.


Installation of the 1887 Exposición

Un día de moda en la Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mariano Padrero, 1904

French critics were delighted yet, at the same time, shocked by the quality and originality of Spanish works on show at the Exposition Universelle of 1878, and Claude Monet proclaimed Joaquín Sorolla. By the turn of the century, nearly 10 percent of all works exhibited in the French Salon were by Spanish artists. (Source: Micah Joseph Christensen. UCL, PhD Dissertation).

The Exposiciónes ran until 1968 (usually in Madrid)

Forward to 1857, Lausanne CH – Lausanne Exhibition
Back to 1856, Boston US – Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association (6th)
Back to Getting Noticed – Back to bobdenton.com home

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