The Museum of Fine Arts of Seville or Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla is a museum in Seville, Spain. The Museum of Fine Arts in Seville was instituted in September 1835 and officially opened in 1841. It is currently considered one of the most important art galleries in Spain. It’s collection mainly Spanish visual arts from the medieval period to the early 20th century, including a choice selection of works by artists from the so-called Golden Age of Sevillian painting during the 17th century, such as Murillo, Zurbarán, Francisco de Herrera the younger, and Valdés Leal.
The building itself was built in 1594, but the museum was founded in 1839, after the desamortizacion or shuttering of religious monasteries and convents, collecting works from across the city and region. The building it is housed in was originally home to the convent of the Order of the Merced Calzada de la Asunción, founded by St. Peter Nolasco during the reign of King Ferdinand III of Castile. Extensive remodeling in the early 17th century was led by the architect Juan de Oviedo y de la Bandera.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Sevilla, was established as a “Museum to display paintings”, by Royal Decree on 16 September 1835, with objects from convents and monasteries seized by the liberal government presided by Mendizábal. It is located in the Plaza del Museo, in the place of the former Convento de la Merced Calzada founded on lands transferred by Ferdinand III after conquering Sevilla.
It is located in the square of the Museum of Seville, which features a bronze statue of the Sevillian painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Of this statue exists an exact replica in front of the Museum of the Prado of Madrid, near the Botanical Garden. Both are the work of the Madrid sculptor Sabino de Medina.
Since its habilitation as a museum has been modified structurally on three occasions: first, between 1868 and 1898 in which the arches and walls of the first floor were restored, the flooring of the cloisters and tiled with tiles from other disentailed convents; For the second time it was retouched between 1942 and 1945. On this occasion the old sacristy was acted on, which became the courtyard of the Shells and on the main facade, which changed place, closing the baroque doorway that was accessed previously. The third time that it underwent a modification was between 1985 and 1993, in that it was rehabilitated in its totality and conditioned really so that it served like museum, being governed by the existing existences for this.
The main façade is located in front of the Museum Square, its front page, the primitive one of the convent, that was placed at the opposite end of the building, between the Street Cepeda and the Street Bailén, and was designed by Miguel de Quintana in 1729, Presents arch of half a point with a pair of columns wall to each side, that rest on pedestals. On the same one opens a great hornacina in whose interior they are the figures of the Virgin of the Favor, San Pedro Nolasco, founder of the Order and the king Jaime I of Aragon, its protector. On both sides are flanked by two Solomonic columns, and on it stands a pediment in the center of which stands the shield of the Order of Mercy.
The current structure of the building corresponds to the reform carried out from 1602 by Juan de Oviedo. The building is structured around three patios connected by a large staircase and the church, located at one end of the convent. The lobby is decorated with tiles from various Seville convents.
The church was built between 1603 and 1612, projected by Juan de Oviedo. The ship is shaped like a Latin cross, with barrel vault and semi-spherical vault on the cruiser. The cover is on the left side, is attributed to José Álvarez, and was executed in the last third of the eighteenth century.
The origin of the collection began with works from convents and monasteries disentailed, reason for which the bulk of works was formed by religious painting, mainly Baroque Seville. The confiscation promoted by the Liberal government of Cadiz Juan de Dios Álvarez Mendizábal, who decreed the suppression of religious orders and the confiscation of their property. The purpose of the disentailment decrees of February 19 and March 8, 1836, which constituted the so-called Confiscation of Mendizabal, was also that unproductive properties and in power of the church and religious orders, passed to a middle class or bourgeoisie that Really enriched the country.
Between 1854 and 1855 a commission of members of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Santa Isabel of Hungary valued the artistic funds coming from the religious orders suppressed by the government of Mendizábal, leaving reduced in that first sieve to 435 paintings and 15 valid sculptures For the Museum, while a total of 357 remaining paintings were classified as “scrap and unfit for a Museum because of its no artistic merit.”
The mystery involved the first decades of the Museum and also a complex network of conflicting intentions, in the best of cases, interested in many others. The truth is that in an implacable market and the complicity of certain people had ended, at its root, with what could have been the most fabulous collection of Spanish Baroque painting. Félix González de León in Art News of Seville without modesty mentions the many works that “have been lost or misplaced of which there were in public buildings”, arriving to offer us reviews on the authors of the paintings and the places where they were.
Fortunately, from the 1920s individual donations were plentiful.
In 1921 Lucy Monty, widow of José Villegas Cordero, presented to the Museum the important collection of canvases and drawings made by her husband. In 1928 Rafael González Abreu made the large, complete and irregular collection of art. In 1931, the widow of Don José Gestoso made a generous donation to the Museum. In 1944 Andrés Siravegne Jiménez and his wife Caridad Lomelino Recio donated a generous collection of sixty-two works by the painter Antonio María Esquivel, eight more paintings by the painter José Gutiérrez de la Vega, and finally a collection of Elizabethan furniture.
In 1945, Dona Candelaria de Alvear, Andrés Parladé’s widow, Conde de Aguiar delivered an important number of works by the painter, along with various objects that made up his private collection composed of paintings, weapons, ceramics, textiles and furniture; On those dates, each one had dedicated a room, passing the museum to denominate “house-museum”.
There are many other legacies entrusted to the Museum of Fine Arts from the families, Chamber, Cortés Soto, Ybarra Llorente, Moreno Larrazabal, Vda. Marquesa de Larios, Countess of Gálvez Vda. Of the minister Luis Alarcón of the Lastra, Jaime de Mora and Aragon. Family of artists Gonzalo de Bilbao, José Arpa and Alfonso Grosso; Donations of the artistic legacy of Virginia Harrison, widow of Zayas, Angulo, Villacieros with thirteen works or the one of Sánchez-Ramos with eight canvases among them the child of the thorn of Zurbarán and ample etc.
As early as the 1970s, the content of the museum was normalized, as in all national museums, reducing its content and refining the presentation of the collection that was to be permanent.
In the last decades the collection has been increased by the public acquisitions of the Andalusian Administration and donations made by descendants of artists of the early twentieth century.
The most deplored lack of the Museum of Fine Arts is the insufficient repertoire of paintings by Diego Velázquez; That developed most of its race in Madrid, being almost all the pictures of its youthful stage sevillana in foreign museums. For many years the museum had the painting Imposition of the chasuble to San Ildefonso, Velázquez, in its collection, but being municipal property, was claimed by the City and was exposed in the plenary hall of the Town Hall. Later, the mayor Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín ordered to transfer the painting to the Alcázar of Seville and in 2007 initiated the procedures so that it was yielded again to the Museum of Beautiful Arts. However, on July 4 of that year, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation acquires at auction the painting of Velázquez dedicated to Santa Rufina, passing this acquisition and the painting Imposition of the Chasuble to San Ildefonso to a room of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation in The Santa Cruz district of Seville. In the Bellas Artes is conserved, of the same author, the Portrait of Cristóbal Suárez de Ribera and an Apostle’s Head given by the Prado Museum.
From the 16th century there are paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder, El Greco (Portrait of his son Jorge Manuel) and Marten de Vos, as well as a famous St. Jerome of the Florentine Pietro Torrigiano.
The Sevillian painting collection of the seventeenth century stands out, with works by the most representative Spanish painters such as Murillo, the aforementioned Velázquez, Zurbarán, Juan de Valdés Leal or Lucas Valdés.
Of the nineteenth and twentieth century, Gonzalo Bilbao, Valeriano Bécquer and Eugenio Hermoso are noteworthy. From Gonzalo de Bilbao you can review the portrait of King Alfonso XIII, where he appears in the uniform of the Maestranza de Caballería of the city and with the Tower of Gold in the background, which shows its connection with the Seville capital.