Thursday, December 10, 2009

Velazquez and Sargent: Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

John Singer Sargent's "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" and Velazquez's "Las Meninas" can arguably be called two of the all-time greatest paintings illustrating themes of childhood and innocence. While they share this honorable title, the inherently linked American (Sargent) and Spanish (Velazquez) paintings have never before been displayed in the same museum (much yet the same collection, side-by-side).

However, that's about to change, as Boston's Museum of Fine Arts has generously agreed to loan "Las Meninas" to Madrid's Museo del Prado. The paintings will temporarily hang next to each other (something Sargent would be honored and delighted to see, as Velazquez's "Las Meninas" acted as the main source of inspiration for "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit," painted in 1882).

While Malcolm Rogers, the MFA's British-born director, says it is a "big sacrifice" to loan out Sargent's painting (which is one of the museum's most important and treasured paintings), he is also excited about the display and hopes the Prado will reciprocate.

It will also be interesting to see if the MFA's loan opens the gateway to a unique cross-cultural collaboration between the two museums.