In an effort to give greater visibility to women’s involvement in the arts, Spain’s Prado Museum is updating its labels to reflect the female patrons and collectors who made its collection possible.
While the museum has recently focused historical exhibitions on such women artists such as Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Clara Peeters, this is the first time the Prado will highlight influential women who promoted the arts in their lifetimes.
The new program, called El Prado en feminine, is based on research conducted by art historian Noelia García Pérez from the University of Murcia. Pérez analyzed the labels of works in the Prado’s collection produced between 1451 and 1633, and presented her findings at a symposium at the museum in March. The program was developed in collaboration with the Women’s Institute of the Ministry of Equality, and further discussion on the topic are expected to take place on March 6th and 7th.
Exhibited paintings and sculptures from the Prado’s collection that fall within these time periods have received new titles and explanatory texts. Changes include updating the general narrative (one label, for example, which underscored the ugliness of England’s former queen Maria Tudor was eliminated) and removing language like the “wife of” to describe relevant female patrons.
Some of the updated pieces have until now been in storage, such as the portraits of Isabel Clara Eugenia and Alberto de Austria by Peter Paul Rubens and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, respectively. John Frederick of Saxony (1550) by Titian, Isabel de Valois (1605) by Pantoja de la Cruz, and a court portrait of Queen Anne of Austria, from 1616, by Bartolomé González. Other works have been relocated within the museum, among them the busts of Eleanor of Austria and Maria of Hungary by Jacques Dubroeucq and the Leone Leoni, respectively.
Additionally, tours will emphasize the personal importance of the museum’s key female benefactors.