art collections

art collections
   The best-known Spanish art collection is undoubtedly that housed in the Prado Museum in Madrid, and is an example of a collection that owes its origin to the donation to the public of privately owned works, in this instance a large part of the royal collection formed by the Hapsburg and Bourbon kings. Similarly the Museo Cerralbo, Madrid, is named after the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, Enrique de Aguilera (1845– 1922), who bequeathed his collections to the nation. Other beneficiaries of private generosity include the Museu d'Art de Catalunya (Catalan Museum of Art), which inherited most of the collection of Francisco de Asís Cambó y Batlle, a politician and banker who specialized in schools and artists not widely represented elsewhere, the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca, which houses abstract paintings collected by the painter Fernando Zóbel, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the Dalí Museum in Figueras, and the Evaristo Valle Museum in Gijón.
   Many publicly owned collections derive originally from the convents and monasteries dissolved at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. The Museo de la Trinidad, for instance, was created in 1837 to preserve works of art confiscated from religious establishments in Madrid, Avila, Segovia and Toledo, a collection that was later incorporated into the Prado Museum. The Museum of Fine Art in Seville, which houses the next most important art collection after the Prado, was founded in 1835 for the same reason, and another major European art museum, the Museum of Fine Art in Valencia, founded in the previous century, acquired collections from similar sources at this time. Paintings that have been entered for examination since the founding of the Royal Academy in 1752 form the basis of another large collection in Madrid, and the Queen Sofía Museum, reopened in 1990 after extensive refurbishment, specializes in collections of modern art.
   Many privately owned collections have been made available to the public, either as the result of purchase, such as that of Luis Plandiura (1882–1956) bought by the Museu d'Art de Catalunya, or that of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza (see also Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum), or by the creation of private foundations to preserve and display works of art, such as the Fundación Casa de Alba, established by the 18th Duchess of Alba in 1975 in the Palacio de Liria in Madrid, which houses an important collection of European masters, the Fundación Joan Miró in Barcelona, established in 1971, and the Fundación Tàpies established in Barcelona in 1990.
   Valuable collections have also been formed by major companies, notably that of the Spanish National Telephone Company, which includes works by Juan Gris, Eduardo Chillida and Luis Fernández and was brought together into a permanent exhibition in 1993; that of the Banco Argentaria, which in 1966 comprised some 3,000 pieces from the sixteenth century to the present day; and that of ICO (Instituto de Crédito Oficial— Official Credit Institute), in which the major artists of the 1980s are represented. A large collection of contemporary art is also held by the ARCO Foundation, established in 1987 to facilitate the purchase of works from commercial galleries exhibiting at the annual ARCO International Modern Art Fairs.
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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