Zurbarán: Jacob and His Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle

September 17, 2017 – January 7, 2018

“Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel’ (Genesis 49).”

These words are the final instructions given by Jacob, patriarch of the Israelites, to each of his sons, the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, before his death. Following these prophetic words, Jacob narrates the different attributes he sees in each of them and gives direction for what each one should do in the future. This biblical text inspired Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) to create one of his most important and monumental series, a total of thirteen canvases, with all but one in the collection of a single owner. These life-size figures were created during the 1640s, coinciding with Zurbarán’s artistic maturity and during the time when his workshop was producing works destined for the Spanish territories in the Americas, for which the wealthy city of Seville was the main gateway into Europe. In fact, the Jacob series is clearly related to the New World, since at least two copies reside in the cities of Puebla (Mexico) and Lima (Peru). The connections between Jacob being given the promised land by God and the theory that America was where the Lost Tribes of Israel had been found are arguments that scholars continue to discuss in order to understand the realization of a series such as this, which remains a rare subject in Christian iconography.

If the series itself is extraordinary because of its quality and rarity, its provenance is also of great interest. Although it is believed that these works were destined for the Americas, there is evidence that they were in England in the early eighteenth century. They have been housed at Auckland Castle since 1756, the year they were purchased at auction in London by Richard Trevor, the fifty-fourth Bishop of Durham. Trevor ran out of funds before being able to purchase Benjamin, so he had a copy made by British artist Arthur Pond (1705-1798) in order to have the entire group represented at his residence. The original Benjamin has remained in a private collection ever since, but it will join its “brothers” in a historic reunion for this exhibition.

This exhibition marks the first time these precious holdings will be presented in America, and only the second time in history that they leave Auckland Castle, a unique opportunity to admire a rare assemblage of Zurbarán’s oeuvre. A major study of the series is being undertaken that will include a meticulous technical analysis of all the paintings as well as the publication of a catalogue with essays by a number of specialists. After its presentation at the Meadows Museum the works will be featured at The Frick Collection in New York, the only other venue for this exhibition.

This exhibition has been co-organized by the Meadows Museum, SMU; The Frick Collection; and Auckland Castle; in association with the Kimbell Art Museum. A generous gift from The Meadows Foundation has helped make this exhibition and technical study possible. The exhibition catalogue has been underwritten by the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica and the Center for Spain in America.

The wallpaper featured in this exhibition has been graciously sponsored by Zoffany Wallpapers and Culp Associates.

Promotional support provided by The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District.

Long-form video presenting the Meadows Museum exhibition Zurbarán: Jacob and His Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle

Click on an image in the slideshow below to see captions.

Auckland Castle Exterior, Graeme Peacock courtesy of Auckland Castle, Photo by Colin Davison. © Auckland Castle Trust/ Zurbarán Trust

Auckland Castle Exterior, Graeme Peacock courtesy of Auckland Castle, Photo by Colin Davison. © Auckland Castle Trust/ Zurbarán Trust

The Zurbaran paintings and other works hanging in Auckland Castle's Long Dining Room. Photo by Colin Davison. © Auckland Castle Trust/ Zurbarán Trust

The Zurbaran paintings and other works hanging in Auckland Castle’s Long Dining Room. Photo by Colin Davison. © Auckland Castle Trust/ Zurbarán Trust

Zurbarán: “Jacob and His Twelve Sons,” Art at the Center of Civic Engagement. Jonathan Ruffer, chairman of Auckland Castle Trust, Eleven Arches, and Ruffer, LLP, presents the plans for the restoration of the former home of the Prince Bishops and the development of a collection of Spanish art as the central project for the revitalization of County Durham in Northern England.

 

Long-form video presenting the Meadows Museum exhibition Zurbarán: Jacob and His Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle.

 

Zubaran :30 spot from Meadows Museum on Vimeo.

Six-part lecture series:

Friday, September 29, 2017, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
(All dates: September 29-November 3, 2017)
LUIS MARTÍN LECTURE SERIES IN THE HUMANITIES
Poetry in Paint: The World and Work of Francisco de Zurbarán
Adam Jasienski, assistant professor of art history, SMU
This six-part lecture series will center on the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), the subject of the exhibition Zurbarán: Jacob and His Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle. Zurbarán never left the Iberian Peninsula, but many of his artworks did, which encourages us to think about Zurbarán in the context of the broader Spanish colonial world, which in the seventeenth century included present-day Mexico, much of South America, the Philippines, and large parts of Italy and the Low Countries. Zurbarán participated in a vigorous cross-cultural exchange between these disparate territories, much like his contemporaries Diego Velázquez, Peter Paul Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. This last figure – Murillo – will also be a significant presence in the lectures, as the other leading artist in southern Spain and as the Meadows will be celebrating the quatercentenary of his birth with an installation that will open December 6, 2017.
Coffee and pastries served in the Founders Room before each lecture, from 10-10:25 a.m.
This program is made possible by gifts from the Fannie and Stephan Khan Charitable Foundation, the Eugene McDermott Foundation.
$50 for the 6-part series; free for Museum members, SMU staff, faculty and students. Advance registration is required. To register, please call 214.768.8587.
Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium

 

Friday, October 20, 12:15 p.m.
GALLERY TALK
Dressing the Part: Reflected Prophecies in Zurbarán’s Sons of Jacob
Nancy Cohen Israel, art historian and owner of Art à la Carte
Free with regular Museum admission.
Virginia Meadows Galleries

 

Thursday, October 26, 6:00 p.m.
LECTURE
Zurbarán’s Series for the New World
Odile Delenda, research fellow at the Wildenstein Institute and author of the Zurbarán catalogue raisonné
By 1640, the great commissions of the art market in Seville were drying up while the colonial American market was beginning to thrive. By mid-century, the Andalusian capital suffered a deep economic depression, impacted by the outbreak of the plague in 1649, greatly reducing the city’s population. At this time, the workshop of Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) began to produce numerous canvases for the colonial market. This lecture will examine Jacob and His Twelve Sons in the context of other series produced by Zurbarán and his workshop. These included sacred themes such as the Founders of Orders, the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Saints, and the Sons of Jacob, along with secular themes such as the Seven Infants of Lara or the Roman Caesars that were made to adorn the religious and civic buildings of the New World.
Free; reservations required, 214.768.8587.
Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium

 

Tuesday, November 14, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
SYMPOSIUM
Jacob and His Twelve Sons: The Intersection of Art and World Religions
Join SMU local scholars and faculty experts for a daylong symposium examining a monumental series of religious paintings by the seventeenth-century Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán. The morning program will engage in a conversation exploring the religious context and significance of Zurbarán’s works from the vantage points of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, while the afternoon sessions will focus on broad historical, art historical, and musical contexts.  The program will culminate in the evening with a keynote lecture and conversation on the timeless theme of faith in the arts led by the celebrated theologian and author N.T. Wright.
Free; advance registration is required. To register, please call 214.768.8587.
Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium

 

Tuesday, November 14, 7:30 p.m.
SYMPOSIUM KEYNOTE LECTURE
Jacob and the Bishop: Where Faith and Art Meet
N.T. Wright,  Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Bishop Richard Trevor of Durham bought Jacob and His Twelve Sons by the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán in 1756, and extended the Long Dining Room at Auckland Castle to provide a worthy showcase for the group. The purchase of the series was intended to communicate to the leaders of northern England the fact, which was very controversial at the time and from time to time since then, that the Jewish people and their traditions have a valued and honored place in national life. Apart from brief absences for exhibitions, the paintings have been there ever since, still conveying the same message for consideration by today’s pluralistic society. The paintings invite contemplation of the way in which art reflects on ancient traditions and out into the wider world. They also communicate the way in which faith and art, so often polarized today, can and perhaps should inform and reinforce one another.
Free
Highland Park United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall

 

Friday, December 1, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
SYMPOSIUM
Looking Below the Surface: Working Methods of Zurbarán, Velázquez, and Murillo
The use of X-ray, infrared reflectography, and pigment and ground analysis in conservation allows an examination beneath the skin of paint and often reveals the working processes of the artist. Claire Barry, director of conservation at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, will present her analysis of Francisco de Zurbarán’s Jacob and His Twelve Sons and discuss the artist’s studio practice and the changes that have occurred to the paintings over time. In addition to her presentation, Barry has invited esteemed colleagues in the conservation field to participate in discussing the working methods of the Sevillian masters including Velázquez and Murillo.
This symposium is co-sponsored by the Meadows Museum and the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Free; advance registration is required. To register, please call 214.768.8587.
Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium

 

Friday, December 8, 12:15 p.m.
GALLERY TALK
Artistic Appropriations: Zurbarán’s Use of Prints and Studio Practice
Amanda W. Dotseth, Meadows/Mellon/Prado curatorial fellow, Meadows Museum
Free with regular Museum admission.
Virginia Meadows Galleries

Carrie Sanger
Marketing & PR Manager
csanger@smu.edu
214.768.1584