Spanish Masterpieces Unite at Bishop Auckland’s ‘North Meadow’

<span>Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/ 1.2/eC1up0aWqI8BgxaZRl3F.w–~B/aD0wO3c9MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/” data-src=”https://s.yimg/res/ny/res/ny/ /1.2/IPn.AJFWi1qmM60._DQMpw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/–~B/aD0wO3c9MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlv-https://bmediagGFjaHlv-/httpsmedia”/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Two stunning examples of Spanish religious art, separated by 350 years but with as many parallels as contrasts, have come together in the unlikely setting of a ‘left behind’ post-industrial market town in North East England.

The Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland is fast becoming something of a “Northern Meadow” some say, and while that might be a slight exaggeration, there are certainly works of art on display that can’t be seen anywhere other than be the Madrid gallery. .

This weekend visitors will be able to see two devotional masterpieces together for the first time: the much-reproduced Christ of Saint John of the Cross, painted in 1951, together with El Greco’s Christ on the Cross, dating from the first decade of the XVII century. century.

“It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?” curator Morlin Ellis said in front of the Dalí painting. “It affects people in many ways. I have known this painting since I was eight years old because a copy used to be on the stairs of our GP’s house. This is my first time seeing him in person.”

The Dali is a superstar of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove art gallery, shrewdly acquired in 1952 by then-director Tom Honeyman. He can now claim that it is “one of the most celebrated images of the 20th century,” Ellis said.

Duncan Dornan, Head of Museums and Collections for Glasgow, said showing “this prized painting in a new way allows us to broaden our understanding of the incredible artist. It will go back on display at Kelvingrove in early 2023.”

The Dalí is displayed alongside an El Greco bought by the Spanish Gallery patron, Jonathan Ruffer, in 2015. It shows the moment in the Gospel of Saint Matthew when Christ looks up and says: “My God, my God, why why have you abandoned me? me?”

Side by side, the similarities and contrasts between the paintings soon become apparent. El Greco’s work drips with blood; he wants the viewer to feel the pain of Christ. Dalí’s Christ has no nails, no blood; the artist wants to elevate the nobility of the crucifixion.

The two artists may have been separated by 350 years, but they have much in common, the curators argue. They are two of the most original and idiosyncratic artists in Western art history, Ellis said, and “both had an insatiable desire for knowledge in all areas.”

She hopes the exhibit will spark a lively discussion among visitors.

The Bishop’s Spanish Gallery Auckland was opened last year by Prince Charles and the Queen of Spain. Its exhibits have been bolstered by generous loans that include two works by Murillo, one from Woburn Abbey and the other, Three Boys, from the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The collection has three works by Juan Bautista Maíno, a name not well known but incredibly important, Ruffer said. “He is the link between Caravaggio and Velázquez. He was painter to the king.

Ruffer is a self-confessed “town dapper”, a millionaire financier who wanted to return to his roots in the North East of England and help regenerate Bishop Auckland.

The journey began because Zurburán’s remarkable paintings that have hung in Auckland Castle since 1756 were sold 20 years ago by church commissioners.

Ruffer’s £15m interjection stopped that, and so began a wider cultural regeneration project that included the restoration of the castle and its opening as a tourist destination; and the opening of a mining art gallery, the Spanish Gallery, a deer park, and Kynren, which uses a 7.5-acre (3-hectare) stage for London Olympics-style live performances that tell the story From great britain.

Bishop Auckland, like many northern cities since the mines closed, is a place that has seen better days. But he has a lot going for him, Ruffer said, and the Dali’s loan from Glasgow is an important milestone in the journey of regeneration.

“It puts the cat in catalyst,” Ruffer joked, “just like among the pigeons.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.