The London Magazine
Jorge Coll on Spanish Landscapes at Colnaghi
Colnaghi is recognised as one of the world’s most important art dealerships in the Old Masters and antiquities markets. The renowned gallery has three spaces in London, Madrid and New York. Founded in Paris in 1760, with a London presence from 1786, Colnaghi exhibited the likes of Turner and advised artists including Delacroix and Constable. It was one of the first galleries in the world to recognise the value of photography and was the official print-seller to the Prince Regent, helping to organise the Royal Collection.
It’s forthcoming show, Spanish Modern Landscapes, follows a successful introductory exhibition into the art of the period, The Golden Age of Spanish Modern Art in 2020. This second foray into the area will focus on how these artists responded to the dramatic and varied Spanish landscape as subject matter, depicting it in unique ways which pre-empt and reflect the movements of Realism, Impressionism and Symbolism.
To realise this presentation, Colnaghi (est. 1760), will collaborate once again with two of Barcelona’s most influential and venerable galleries, Sala Parés (est. 1877) and Artur Ramon Art (est. 1911), combining more than five hundred years of collective knowledge and experience. This exhibition forms part of an ongoing strategic project by the trio to bring Spanish artists from the turn of the 20th century to wider public recognition, restoring the prestige of arguably one of the best schools of painting in Europe.
The London Magazine speaks to Jorge Coll, who, with Victoria Golembiovskaya, is joint CEO of the gallery, about the show and Colnaghi’s future direction.
Colnaghi gallery is the oldest gallery in the world. Can you tell me what is so special about it, and how it has developed and is developing?
Founded in 1760, Colnaghi has a long history and a great tradition. From the late nineteenth century, Colnaghi was the leading dealership in Old Master paintings, selling masterpieces to the greatest collectors and museums of the Gilded Age, as well as a gallery with a great reputation for connoisseurship in prints and Old Master drawings. What is less known, however, is that contemporary art was also a key aspect of the gallery’s offering in its formative years. The gallery helped to promote artists such as Delacroix and Constable. As the official print-seller to the Prince Regent, Colnaghi was at the heart of the contemporary art world in London and later became one of the first galleries in the world to recognise the value of photography, exhibiting the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, the pioneering Victorian photographer.
Today, we are the only major commercial gallery to specialise in works of art from antiquity through to the modern era, handling rare objects from the Ancient World, the finest Old Masters, and Modern masterpieces. In 2017, we reopened Colnaghi New York under the new Directorship of Carlos A. Picón, who was longtime curator of Greek and Roman art at the Met. In 2019, art curator and dealer Victoria Golembiovskaya joined me as joint CEO in London. We are united in our desire to maintain the company’s connection with the past, whilst looking firmly forward to the future. With galleries and specialists in London, New York, and Madrid, we are able to offer our clients an extremely high level of expertise and an exciting programme of exhibitions and events.
Can you tell me about the background behind this show? I am thinking about your collaboration with the two other dealers, Sala Parés and Artur Ramon Art, in particular.
For Spanish Modern Landscapes, we have collaborated once again with two of Barcelona’s most influential and venerable galleries, Sala Parés (est. 1877) and Artur Ramon Art (est. 1911), combining more than five hundred years of collective knowledge and experience. We have sourced the highest quality works, with many of the landscapes presented here coming from the pinnacle of the artists output. At a time when many of us are trapped inside, these landscape paintings offer an escape into the otherworldly beauty of rural Spain.
I saw that last year you had an exhibition of Spanish artists with a connection with Paris working in the same period. Are you on a mission to bring these artists recognition outside of Spain?
Absolutely. We hope that this exhibition will build upon the success of The Golden Age of Spanish Modern Art at Colnaghi London last year, bringing these Spanish Modernists to wider public recognition and appreciation around the globe. All of them trained at the art academies of Barcelona, but many were drawn to Paris, at the time the epicentre of the art world. However, unlike their peers, who included Degas, Picasso and Dali, few are household names beyond their native Spain. This show aims to build upon the growing appreciation for this Spanish group, which has come following exhibitions appraising ‘Catalan Modernisme’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. It is the second of this ongoing and strategic venture both myself, Artur Ramon and Sala Pares are passionate about.
We like to offer quality art at accessible levels. This has always been a strong tradition of ours, and Colnaghi has benefitted from it. Many collectors who start collecting prints and drawings later became important Old Master collectors. These amazing works by great artists offer a unique opportunity to start collecting top quality paintings at affordable prices.
Some of the works look incredibly modern for the period. I am thinking in particular Nicolau Raurich work, Fangal. Do you think they were ahead of other artists working in Europe at the time.
Nicolau Raurich’s Fangal (Lodazal), 1897, is a powerful response to the landscape of the Pontine Marshes, reflecting how the artist was inspired by Symbolism, as he plays here with light and its effects on water. Like the majority of the works in this exhibition, this painting is rare and important as it comes from a pivotal moment worked amongst the key artists and creative thinkers of the late ninteenth and early twentieth century.
Which three works in the show do you find the most compelling and why?
I would say Santiago Rusiñol’s Jardin de Valencia, 1912. With its bold sense of perspective, this painting demonstrates the influence of Degas and Whistler upon Rusiñol’s work, as well as the time he spent studying in Paris. Joaquín Mir’s Cave of Mallorca, Sa Calobra, 1903, is another highlight. It depicts the vertiginous mountains of northern Mallorca in bold, dynamic brushstrokes. Unlike the other artists in this show, Mir never left his native Spain. He was utterly dedicated to his craft, and was actually injured whilst painting en plein air as he sought to capture the landscape. Finally, I would say Hermenegildo Anglada-Camarasa’s Montserrat Landscape, 1937-1938, where the legacy of the Impressionists can be particularly appreciated in the grouping of daubs of pastel toned paint, which accentuate the face of the mountain, simultaneously highlighting a yellowy sky.
Eliseo Meifren (1859-1940), Shore with figures (Riba con figuras), c. 1910, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Colnaghi, Artur Ramon Art and Sala Parés
Can you tell me how you became a dealer, and what are the key motivators in your choice of profession, that is to say what most excites you?
I grew up in Barcelona, and once I had finished my studies I spent four years working in my family’s art dealing business. After working at the family business, I started my own company in Madrid, until I decided to internationalise the business in 2012. Following three successful years, the inimitable Konrad Bernheimer offered me the chance to take over Colnaghi, an opportunity I could not refuse.
At the gallery today, we aim to broaden the reach of Old Master paintings and sculptures through a dynamic team, who love to share knowledge with visitors and our online audience through Instagram and our digital content. Colnaghi takes a decidedly cross category approach; I think we are seeing this pay off with clients who step from Contemporary art to Old Masters, as opposed to sticking to one category only, and this to me is very exciting.
26 Bury Street, London SW1Y 6AL
Exhibition Dates: 17 March — 21 May 2021
Contact t. +44 20 7491 7408, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the gallery is by appointment only.
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