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Displaying Spain's splendor

Updated: 2024-05-10 07:20 ( China Daily )
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Visitors are enthralled by the Ages of Splendor: A History of Spain in the Museo del Prado at the Museum of Art Pudong in Shanghai. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

During the restoration process, infrared reflectography and radiography showed that the Prado's Mona Lisa contained the same underlying sketches and corrections as the original, though done in a slightly different style, proving that it was made in the same workshop and at the same time as the original Mona Lisa was painted, says Ma Jue, head of the Pudong museum's exhibition department.

The exhibition in Shanghai dedicates a whole section to the story of the Prado's Mona Lisa. On the ground floor, the In Focus section presents the way it has been exhibited over the centuries, and how studies revealed its origins, and highlights the stylistic difference with the original.

"In this way, we have provided an in-depth interpretation of the Prado's Mona Lisa," says Li Minkun, chairperson of the Pudong museum.

"Visitors can watch a documentary to understand how the studios of Renaissance artists worked, and we also have a special reproduction for the sight impaired to touch and feel. We believe it is a good way to tell the stories behind the artwork, and an interesting journey of discovery for visitors," she tells China Daily.

The rest of the exhibition, located on the third floor of the museum, consists of 10 complementary themes, including The Celebrations in the Spanish Court, The Nobility, the Bourgeoisie and the Royalty in the Spanish Territories, Thought and Spirituality, Sacred Images as Everyday Images and The Beauty of Everyday Objects: The Still Life.

Spanning the 16th to 20th centuries, Ages of Splendor displays masterpieces by 50 remarkable artists from the history of European art, including Titian, Verones, El Greco, Rubens, Zurbaran, Velazquez, Murillo, Ribera, Goya, Fortuny and Sorolla.

"The exhibition has been a great occasion to present both great masterpieces, and also explain the history of Spain," says Falomir Faus. "If you look at Spain on the map, it is a tiny country, but in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was one of the most powerful countries in the world, and spanned four different continents. In some of the paintings, we find objects from different parts of the world, such as porcelain from China in the still life paintings."

The Prado mounted an exhibition in Beijing and Shanghai in 2007, he says, but the current exhibition is bigger and much more ambitious. "Maybe in the future we will visit other Chinese cities," he adds.

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