How A Prado Exhibition Began With A Question From The Director’s Wife


NPR has a story about the sometimes mundane beginnings behind an exhibition. This one is about the Prado’s Alejandro Vergara and his Clara Peeters—a little known Flemish Old Master—show now on view:

Vergara also tells a personal story from several years earlier, when his wife at the time came to visit him at work.

“Visiting the museum one day, she asked, ‘Where are the women artists?’ And I couldn’t find any,” Vergara recalls. “So I went into our storage and we brought [Peeters’] paintings out.”

Peeters’ works are mostly still life paintings of fruit, fowl, fish, bowls and goblets. But there’s a twist: She painted her own reflection — tiny self-portraits — hidden in her compositions.

“Several of her paintings have metal gold cups, and on those cups you see seven reflections with her face — seven self-portraits,” Vergara explains. “That is a very unusual thing to do at the time. [It] seems to speak of someone who’s discreet and modest, but really is seducing you into looking closely and carefully. And when you do that, you find her. So she’s really trying to be seen.”