Greetings SpainLifestylers,

What a hot summer. Wow. The hottest since records began, according to the weather services in the news

I managed to see two fabulous exhibitions at our wonderful Fine Arts Museum in Valencia, along with a few of my favourite art-loving women. 

The Design, Silk & Flowers exhibition was great, with so many beautiful patterns of silks and dresses and paintings of flowers, but it was not what I really wanted to see.

I really wanted to see the exhibition of paintings of Spanish women at the turn of the century. It was about how the creation of the myth of the genius in the 16th century excluded women from the arts, as it was seen as an intellectual activity only for men. Women's access to the brush or chisel was systematically forbidden. In Spain, the situation of women and the arts was even more difficult at the beginning of the modern world. 

The traditional blockade of women's access to artistic training began to crumble in the 18th century thanks to the spread of art schools. However, for a long time, the ladies in the classrooms were considered amateur artists. They painted and drew alongside the best male artists, but access to professional art practise remained denied them.

Many of you may remember the lecture I gave on Zoom during Pandemic * Spain's Modern 19th and 20th SHOCKING Ideology of Women. 

In that lecture I talked about Aurelia Navarro and her infamous painting, and now it was here, and I was eager to see it because of its history. She was a painter from Granada in the 19th century who started her artistic career at a very young age. She was the daughter of a distinguished doctor from Granada and spent her childhood in a bourgeois, enlightened family with great cultural and artistic interest, which favoured Aurelia's intellectual and artistic development. 

In 1908, she participated in the National Fine Arts Exhibition with the painting Nude of a Woman and received a third medal. She was the only woman to receive a medal at this exhibition. Although it was a homage to Velázquez's painting Venus in the Mirror, it was also a self-portrait of the painter, which was met with sexist comments from the public and the jury. Faced with social and personal pressures, Aurelia Navarro decided in 1923, at the age of forty, to join the Order of Slave Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, where she died on 9 February 1968.

I also discovered works by María Sorolla, Elena Carabia, Emilia Torrente, Manuela Ballester, Rosario de Velasco, Marthe Spitzer and Adrienne Guillou, which I will now include in my talk for next time.

I kept busy writing my 7th textbook for you Spanish arts and culture vultures. It's about Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (baptised 6 June 1599 - 6 August 1660), his influences, travels and abilities. The pages explore his artistic genius and humanistic philosophies that developed and matured as he met with the most impressive and talented scholars, playwrights and artistic geniuses of his time.

Each of his mythological paintings, which form a unique collection in Madrid's phenomenal Prado Museum of Fine Arts, receives a descriptive analysis by examining their compositions, the stories they depict and the details that often remain unexplained.

I also give my own interpretations of Velázquez's mythological paintings, based on particular surprises that I have come across over the years as an art historian.

It is Available on Amazon or from me of course.