Spanish painting challenges the eyes, the emotions and the mind. It reiterates accepted realities and leads on to subtle discoveries. Spain in Its landscape and its art stretches perception to fresh boundaries wherein the strange becomes familiar, and remote possibilities seem intimate.
Its portraits bare the sitters' inner character, and their thoughtful integrity attracts us to these faces. Stoicism and religious fanaticism armor its saints against the deathly details of Christian martyrdom. In the paint of her artists is reflected Spain's native drama of color and contour, her exciting contrasts of ruddy soils with flaring green vegetaion, ominous gray rocks and mountains pulsating above heat waves from a blinding sky, or shimmering in the twilight mist. These painters see men and things with an intensity and assurance that bridges centuries of technical variety and binds Spanish art into a unity of national feeling. Realism expands to include the mystic, the dramatic, the religious. Spiritual austerity looks forth from the magnificence of pomp and circumstance. Lighter moods are vivacious, capricious, amusing. Restraint and elegance distinguish numberless details in El Greco's cosmic compositions. Lovers of nineteenth and twentieth century art recognize in Goya, Veláquez, El Greco the great spring from which Daumier, Manet, Cézanne drank deeply.
This rich field was chosen as the subject for the current Annual Professorship of the Toledo Museum. A leading scholar therein, José Gudiol, was entrusted with expounding it through classes, lectures, an exhibition and a catalogue thereof. This is in conformity with the plan which we presented to the Carnegie Corporation of New York in seeking their subsidy.
The exhibition which has been assembled gives, within the limits of borrowing possibilities, a more comprehensive picture of the development of Spanish painting than could be found elsewhere outside the boundaries of that country. That alone would be reward enough for those who visit it.
But to prolong their enjoyment, and for the benefit of other remote from the showing, this volume has been published. While it serves as a guide to the exhibition, it is more than a catalogue. It presents in concise and factual way the history of painting in Spain. It is illustrated largely with paintings in the exhibition, wholly with those owned in America. It offers a compact source of reference heretofore unavailable.
On behalf of institution and author, the Museum expresses gratitude to the Carnegie Corporation of New York whose grant has financed the whole scheme, to the lenders listed herein who have made the exhibition possible, to collectors and museums who have provided photographs, to Professors Chandler R. Post and Harold E. Wethey who have assisted in the editing of the text, to all of the members of the staff and students in Museum classes who have contributed in so many ways, and particularly Mable Lintner whose assistance in the preparation of this volume has been outstanding.