The Museo del Prado in Madrid has removed a painting from an exhibition dedicated to women of the 19th-century Spanish art world after an expert provided evidence that the canvas was created by a man. Art historian Concha Díaz Pascual found that a painting, which had been attributed to the artist Concepción Mejía de Salvador, was in fact painted by Adolfo Sánchez Megías.
The work, whose true title is La March del Soldado and dates to around 1895, was added to the Prado’s collection in 2016. In a statement on the institution’s website, the Prado said that it “regrets this setback” and asserted “the need to continue research on women artists from past centuries.”
La March del Soldado had been featured in a presentation titled “Uninvited Guests: Episodes on Women, Ideology and the Visual Arts in Spain (1833-1931),” which opened on October 6 and continues through March 14, 2021. The exhibition includes 134 paintings and is curated by Carlos G. Navarro, who works in the museum’s department of 19th-century painting.
With a focus on the role of women in the Spanish art world over the course of a century, the show aims to showcase 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,” according to a release. Roughly 60 of the works in the show are signed by women, including María Roësset and Aurelia Navarro.
Miguel Falomir, director of the Prado, said in a statement, “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.”
In Spain, “Uninvited Guests” has been controversial among feminist art historians, who have claimed that its emphasis on power is retrograde and that it devalues women artists because so many men are showcased. “It’s meant to be the first time that the Prado has considered the question of female artists in the 19th century, but it’s also been done from a misogynistic point of view and still projects the misogyny of that century,” art historian and critic Rocío de la Villa told the Guardian.