MADRID, April 2, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – What began more than a century ago as one man’s passion for all things Spanish, has become the world’s largest collection of Hispanic art outside Spain — and now part of it is going on display in the country for the first time.
Masterpieces from the 18,000-work collection founded by American philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington go on display at Madrid’s Prado Museum from Tuesday.
The exhibit opens with a portrait of the collector himself, painted in the 1920s when he was in his 50s, wearing a thin moustache and reserved air that belied an obsession nourished since childhood for the literature and art of Spain and its imperial lands.
The masterpieces on display range from paintings by Goya, Velazquez and Murillo, some restored by the Prado ahead of the show, to a “Pieta” by El Greco.
One unique item harkens back to Spain’s powerful empire days of global exploration: a map of the world made in Sevilla by Giovanni Vespucci — nephew to explorer Amerigo Vespucci — in 1526.
Rich in detail, including a Tower of Babel in the Middle East to Spanish sailing ships on the seas, the document was used by the explorers heading across the Atlantic to the New World.