Iberian era brought to life through art

Published: 9 November 2011

A new undergraduate course at the University of Glasgow will bring students into contact with one of the best collections of Iberian art outside of Spain or Portugal.

A new undergraduate course at the University of Glasgow will bring students into contact with one of the best collections of Iberian art outside of Spain or Portugal.

The course, Golden Age Iberia in Glasgow, covers the period from 1580-1640 when Spain and Portugal were joined as one country and marks a period when art and literature flourished.

The collection of Iberian art was amassed by the pioneering Scottish art historian and collector Sir William Stirling Maxwell, who also built up one of the most impressive libraries during the nineteenth century. Many of the paintings now hang in Pollok House in Glasgow. The House and much of its contents were given to the City of Glasgow by Sir William’s granddaughter, Dame Anne Maxwell Macdonald in 1966.

Sir William Stirling Maxwell had close links to the University of Glasgow as its Chancellor from 1875 to 1878. He also donated money for the present main University building at Gilmorehill. As a Member of Parliament he campaigned vigorously for the reform of university education in the United Kingdom and was in favour of university education for women.

In a unique approach to teaching, students spend part of their time visiting Pollok House and experiencing the art first hand.  They participate in walking seminars, guided and taught by the course lecturers from both History of Art and Hispanic Studies.  There will also be classes delivered within Special Collections at Glasgow University Library where Sir William Stirling Maxwell’s unrivalled collection of emblem and festival books are held.

The course is a collaboration between the School of Modern Languages and the School of Culture and Creative Arts (University of Glasgow), Pollok House, Glasgow Museums (part of Glasgow Life) and the National Trust of Scotland.

Dr Luis Gomes, Hispanic Studies (Portuguese) said “Spanish and Iberian Golden Age art is not studied much in the UK, with the exception of London. This course and brings to life this rich period in history.  The benefits of seeing the art in close proximity provides students with a unique opportunity to explore this rich era of Iberian art and literature.”

Dr. Anne Holloway, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies (Spanish) said “Despite recent high profile exhibitions (The Sacred Made Real, National Gallery, London, October 2009 – January 2010), the art of the Spanish Golden Age is still somewhat neglected on university courses, an imbalance that this course also addresses with invited guest speakers, such as Edward Payne, one of the contributors to an exhibition of Spanish drawings. Many of the drawings featured were formerly in the Stirling Maxwell Collection, which is currently at the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London (The Spanish Line: Drawings from Ribera to Picasso, Courtauld Institute, London, October 2011 – January 2012).”

Dr Hilary Macartney, Project Director of the Stirling Maxwell Research Project, said “Students have a unique opportunity to engage directly with the works of art in Pollok House, and to start to understand their rich interrelationship with the literature of the period, just as Sir William Stirling Maxwell so clearly did.

For more information contact Cara MacDowall in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535; 07875 203387 or email cara.macdowall@glasgow.ac.uk

First published: 9 November 2011