This weekend, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will open an exhibition of outstanding paintings, furniture and works in silver and ivory from Roberta and Richard Huber’s collection of Spanish and Portuguese colonial art. “Journeys to New Worlds” is a compelling insight into the new visual culture created by the global empires of these two nations in the 17th and 18th centuries. Including elegant religious sculptures, ornate silverwork, and vibrant paintings of South American aristocrats and Catholic saints, this exhibition offers rare insight into a world of dramatic change and converging cultures.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the development of a vast network of trade routes created the conditions for an unparalleled artistic exchange within the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires. Works of art traveled between these two European countries and their colonies in Latin America and Asia, and the burgeoning trade in this field led to the development of new visual traditions. Emblematic of their time and place, the works created in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies of Latin American and Asia are often distinctive in style and content, yet they also reflect a shared heritage of culture, religion, and artistic practice that ranged geographically from Peru to Sri Lanka.
“This collection was a melody of two quite different, yet sophisticated cultures, that created a combined art form that took the best of the pre-existing art forms,” explained Huber, as he stood with his wife during Friday’s media preview.” We think it's important as a way to show the heritage of what is becoming a pretty large percentage of the population here in the US, which is the Hispanic and Portuguese immigration and now second third and fourth generations — they would like to understand a little bit more of their heritage and I think that this initiative by the PMA is important in that sense as well.”
The combination of these hybrid visual traditions — European, American and Asian — provide viewers with a glimpse of the new and increasingly complex cultural world forged in the making of these global empires.
“We are delighted to share with the public Roberta and Richard Huber’s remarkable collection, said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer. “These objects, many on view for the first time in the United States, will enrich and delight our visitors. The Hubers have promised as a gift to the Museum a large group of historically significant paintings that will strengthen our collection and bolster our longstanding commitment to the arts in Latin America.”
The Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts “Journeys to New Worlds: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art from the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection” exhibition from Feb. 16 to May 19 at Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave. As part of special holiday hours, the entire Museum will be open Monday on Presidents Day.