Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920
February 12, 2021 — May 16, 2021
Special Exhibition Galleries
Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920 explores a pivotal moment, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when American artists and their European counterparts flocked to Spain to capture its scenic charms and seemingly exotic customs.
Co-organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition is developed around each institution’s unique collection of American and old master paintings. The show features works by Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent, and others alongside their Spanish contemporaries and the country’s Old Masters.
Americans in Spain examines the widespread influence of Spanish art and culture on American painting. For many artists, particularly in the second half of the nineteenth century, Spain was a requisite stop on their European tour. A large number of America’s most prominent artists—many of them establishing their artistic footing—traveled to the country for training and to study its Old Masters at the Prado Museum. They, in turn, absorbed and translated into their own work Spanish subjects and styles.
While a few books and catalogues have been devoted to American artists’ experience in (and fascination with) Spain, the subject has been given far less treatment than other aspects of the grand tour. Americans in Spain is the first exhibition to present this important period of American art to a wide audience, and it will expand on previous studies by emphasizing a focused range of topics: Spain’s Islamic culture, the country’s economic and political situation and international status at the time, the impact of Spain’s painters on American artists, the Prado Museum as a center of study, and the critical and popular reception of these American painters’ Spanish works.
The exhibition presents more than seventy paintings alongside nineteenth-century photographs, prints, and travel guides. The works on view come from a wide range of national and international collections including the Prado Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Musée d’Orsay; Getty Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Victoria and Albert Museum; and others as well as a newly discovered painting by Mary Cassatt from a Madrid private collection never before shown in the United States.
Co-curated by Corey Piper, Brock Curator of American Art, Chrysler Museum of Art and Brandon Ruud, Abert Family Curator of American Art, Milwaukee Art Museum
The Artist-Travelers Project
This interactive mapping companion to the exhibition invites you to experience the places that artists visited during their journeys to Spain and the images they created. Simply zoom in, explore the historical maps, and click on a location to begin your own journey.
A Digital Guide for Americans in Spain
Use your personal device to explore select works from the exhibition in depth. The Americans in Spain app includes bilingual audio commentaries and additional information on thirty-six of the exhibition’s paintings and works on paper. The Americans in Spain app is available on Google Play and the App Store® for iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®.
Thursday, February 11
All current Members are invited to enjoy a first look at the exhibition before it opens to the public. Reserve tickets
Thursday, February 11
At 7 p.m., tune in for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Americans in Spain and a live interview with the exhibition co-curators. RSVP
First Wednesdays March–May
Museum Members, join us after-hours in the exhibition. The 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. time slots include a docent-led tour. Space is limited. Reserve tickets
Mon.–Fri., April 5–9
Experience scenic charms and customs of the nineteenth century with crafts, story readings, and in-depth looks at the works on view in the exhibition. Get details
Saturdays, April 10 or May 1
Learn basic techniques for drawing from paintings during two hours of guided instruction with local artist Rowena Finn. Materials are included. Sign up
Wednesday, February 24
A virtual lecture with Brandon Ruud, PhD, Abert Family Curator of American Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum and co-curator of the exhibition. Details
Saturday, May 1
Historian M. Elizabeth (Betsy) Boone, Ph.D. will share details about the artist, the work, and her discovery during this virtual program. Sign up
In the Museum Shop
Architects & Artisans Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920
Hyperallergic Some of the Best Art Books of 2020
American Fine Art Magazine Across the Atlantic
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Milwaukee Art Museum’s American Arts Society
Wyeth Foundation for American Art
Joan and Macon Brock American Art Endowment
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
Presenting Sponsor at the Chrysler Museum of Art
The 3D Visualization of the Prado Museum and Interactive Artist Travelers Project and exhibition app were developed in partnership with the Milwaukee Art Museum and Marquette University, including Dr. Eugenia Afinoguénova, professor of Spanish languages, literatures, and cultures, and Tim Korolev and Shiyu Tian, and funded by a Marquette University Explorer Challenge Grant.