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Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting
in the Pérez-Simón Collection

From 25 June to 12 October 2014 (extended closing date)

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
The Roses of Heliogabalus (detail)
Oil on canvas
132.7 x 214.4 cm

Pérez-Simón Collection, Mexico

Carmen in Spanish collections

From 7 October until 9 November 2014

Special Collaborative Exhibition. Free entry

Pablo Picasso
Illustrations for Le Carmen des Carmen by Prosper Mérimée and Louis Aragon>
Bancaja Collection, Valencia
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2014

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Andrew Wyeth
My Young Friend
Tempera on masonite
81.3 x 63.5 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 787 (1978.74)

More information about this work

The painstaking realism of the painter Andrew Wyeth has made him one of the most popular American artists. The present portrait executed in 1970, entitled My Young Friend, shows a girl positioned slightly to the left of the composition against the flat background, dressed in a thick cable knit sweater and a racoon hat. The sitter is Sissy Spruance, a twenty-year old stable girl who worked on a ranch near the painter’s home in Brandywine, Pennsylvania. According to Wyeth, the girl had caught his attention when riding: “One day I spotted her riding bareback over the meadow, her braided hair flying and those two long strands falling over her face. She was wearing that raccoon skin hat which I’ve never seen any other girl wear, as if she was an animal, not a human being.”

The portrait is painted in light, earthy shades — the artist’s favourite range of colours — using the traditional medium of tempera on a masonite panel. Wyeth began to experiment with this procedure in the 1930s, but it was from the early 1970s onwards that he achieved matchless mastery. The artist himself confessed that “tempera is, in a sense, like building, really building, in great layers the way the earth itself was built.” By applying the paint in successive fine layers he achieves such precision in capturing detail and texture that he manages to create a lifelike atmosphere and sense of timelessness which infuse his own particular brand of realism with a magical and mysterious air.

Paloma Alarcó

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