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The Museo Nacional del Prado is restarting its activities with Uninvited Guests


Uninvited Guests. Episodes on Women, ideology and the visual arts in Spain (1833-1931) is the first temporary exhibition to be organised by the Museo Nacional del Prado following its reopening on 6 June. It offers a reflection on the position of women and the various roles they played within the Spanish art system, from the reign of Isabel II to that of her grandson Alfonso XIII.

Curated by Carlos G. Navarro, a curator in the Museum’s department of 19th-century painting, and with the sponsorship of Fundación AXA, this exhibition is on display in Rooms A and B of the Jerónimos Building until 14 March 2021. Structured into 17 sections, it features a selection of more than 130 works, the majority from the Prado’s own holdings plus others loaned from the royal collections of Patrimonio Nacional and from public and private collections. Most of these works were exhibited in international exhibitions or were awarded prizes at the National Exhibitions, which were established in 1853 to encourage Spanish art and present an ideological image of the nation.

For Javier Solana, President of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional del Prado: “This exhibition clearly reflects the Prado’s determination to continue being a reference point for culture, even in difficult times. For this reason I would like to express my thanks for Fundación AXA’s commitment and in particular that of the staff of this institution, whose efforts and dedication and have made it possible”.

Uninvited Guests is the first exhibition to be organised by the Museo Nacional del Prado following its reopening. It aims to offer a reflection on the way in which the structures of power defended and disseminated the role of women in society through the visual arts, from the reign of Isabel II to that of her grandson Alfonso XIII. During that period the Museo del Prado became a key element for the acquisition and display of contemporary art, playing an important role in the construction of the idea of a modern Spanish school.

In the words of Olga Sánchez, President of Fundación AXA: “Fundación AXA is extremely proud to be able to contribute to this exceptionally daring exhibition which champions the role of women and analyses the hostility with which they were treated by the Spanish art system in the 19th and early 20th centuries. We have been collaborating with the Prado for twenty-one years and every exhibition surpasses the previous one.”

Structured into episodes particularly representative of this art system, Uninvited Guests generates a series of contexts that allow for a reflection from the starting point of the Museum’s own collection and for an analysis of some of the most profound consequences of a common mindset. The women present in all these contexts are rarely the protagonists through their own initiatives, nor are they located where they wished to be: rather, they were merely “uninvited guests” in the art world of the day.

As Miguel Falomir, Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado observes: “I think that one of the most interesting aspects of this exhibition lies precisely in the fact that it is directed towards official art of the time rather than the periphery. Some of these works may be surprising to our modern sensibility but not for their eccentricity or doom-laden aura, rather for being an expression of an already outmoded time and society.”

This survey also reveals the Museum’s commitment to the conservation, study and dissemination of its own holdings in its intention to give visibility to works not always accessible to the public through their inclusion in new narratives.

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