The San Diego Museum of Art Announces Newest Acquisition
Baroque painting by Juan de Valdés Leal strengthens the Museum’s Permanent Collection of Spanish art
SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego Museum of Art proudly announces the acquisition of a major painting by Juan de Valdés Leal, one of the most important Spanish painters of the seventeenth century. The Visitation is a transformative presence in the Museum’s European art galleries, where it joins the Museum’s already world-renowned collection of Spanish paintings.
“We are thrilled to acquire this extraordinary painting, which is the first work by Juan de Valdés Leal to enter the collection. It builds on the existing strength of our holdings of Spanish art and raises the overall significance of the collection to a new level.” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director of The San Diego Museum of Art. Works by Valdés Leal are found in the most important collections of Spanish art in the United States, including the Hispanic Society of America in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Meadows Museum in Dallas. The Visitation joins San Diego’s acclaimed Spanish works including Juan Sánchez Cotán’s Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, El Greco’s Penitent Saint Peter, and Goya’s portrait of Vicente Maria de Vera de Aragon, Duque de la Roca.
Painted with an energized, expressive brushstroke—the trademark of his best work—the monumental Visitation depicts the emotional meeting of the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. The two women’s embrace is especially poignant as it was the miraculous first meeting of Jesus and St. John the Baptist.
At a framed height of over six feet, The Visitation is a commanding presence in the gallery. It joins another recent acquisition, the figure of San Diego de Alcalá by Pedro de Mena, one of the greatest sculptors of the Spanish Baroque. “Alongside Zurbarán, Murillo, and El Greco, the additions of Valdés Leal and de Mena allow us to tell a more compelling, more complete story of Spain’s Golden Age,” said Michael Brown, Associate Curator of European Art.
About the artist
Valdés Leal (1622-1690) was, apart from his colleague and rival Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, the most prominent artistic figure in Seville of the later seventeenth century. He was an accomplished printmaker, sculptor and decorator. Though Valdés Leal and Murillo collaborated on several projects, the two had very different styles. Valdés Leal was known for dramatic, often macabre subjects, while Murillo’s style was considered serene and peaceful. Murillo and Valdés Leal founded a drawing academy in Seville, the first of its kind in Spain.
The 1670s was a decade of great productivity and success for Valdés Leal. In 1671, he was commissioned to design an ephemeral triumphal monument to commemorate the occasion of St. Ferdinand of Castile’s canonization, which survives only in the form of his brilliant etching. 1673, the year he signed The Visitation, Valdés Leal was at the height of his artistic and commercial success. In the same year, he was also commissioned to paint seven canvases depicting the life of St. Ambrose by the archbishop of Seville. While Murillo enjoyed greater fame and fortune in his lifetime, Valdés Leal, much like El Greco, is regarded as a crucial figure for his highly individual, painterly style.
About The San Diego Museum of Art
The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif., 92101.
General Information: 619.232.7931, Group Sales: 619.696.1935, Website, Twitter: @SDMA, Facebook.
Providing a rich and diverse cultural experience, The San Diego Museum of Art houses the world’s finest art in America’s Finest City. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the Museum’s nationally renowned collections include Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings including the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings, and 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculptures. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.