Museo de Arte de Ponce: A Jewel of the Caribbean10 February, 2012 at 07:45 | Posted in Culture, picture of the day | Leave a comment
Tags: art, Culture, picture of the day
Puerto Rico’s little known art museum has a surprisingly important art collection
Though Puerto Rico is known as “the jewel of the Caribbean” for its good food, warm weather, and sandy beaches; it is not often thought of as a destination for European fine art.
However, in the heart of its second largest city, the Museo de Arte de Ponce is home to a very important collection.
Despite the building’s relatively small size, the collection is comprised of over 4,500 works of art.
Its walls are hung with Lord Leighton’s iconic painting of “Flaming June,” Edward Burne-Jones’ “The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon,” and his fully worked out studies of the “Briar Rose” series, William Bouguereau’s “Le Collier de Perles,” and “Loin du Pays.”
Continuing around the museum you’ll find major works by William Holman Hunt, John Evert Millais, Frederick Sandys, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gustave Doré, James Tissot, Jean-Leon Gerome, Jusepe de Ribera, and Konstantin Makovsky.
Other artists included in this museum are Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Baptistes’ “Carpeaux”, Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Le Brun, as well as many other fantastic works by lesser known artists.
With a collection this important, it is surprising more tourists have not heard of this museum and more visitors do not take advantage of this treasure trove of art.
The museum’s founder, Luis A. Ferré, first traveled to Europe in 1950 where he fell in love with European paintings and sculpture. By 1956, he had started his own collection.
He wanted to allow all the people of Puerto Rico to have access to high quality works that the majority of residents would never get to enjoy otherwise.
He started collecting with this greater vision in mind and his dreams were realized beyond his expectations.
The museum has loaned many of its works to important museums around the globe and it has become part of the island’s heritage.
Although the museum’s collection spans from the early Renaissance to the present, Ferré fell in love with what was considered in the 1950s through the 1980s as “unfashionable” art; that being the classical art of the 19th century.
Leading artists from the era include artists such as Frederick Lord Leighton, William Bouguereau, and many of the other names listed above.
At the time, the greatest works of the period could be purchased for only a few thousand dollars or less. During the 1980s this period of painting started to attract more attention from collectors and today many of these artists are considered masters alongside artists from earlier centuries such as Rembrandt, who was at one time also a forgotten painter.
Ferré, although his choices were unfashionable at the time, trusted his instincts and had the foresight to put together a world class museum of forgotten painters who have now been brought back into the public light.
As the reputations and love of these artists are expanding every year, their re-appreciation still being only recent history, there is no doubt that the museum’s fame and reputation will grow as more and more people become aware of its importance, not only to Puerto Rico, but the world.
You can find more information on the Museo de Arte de Ponce on the museum’s official page.
Kara Lysandra Ross is the director of operations for the Art Renewal Center and an expert in 19th century European painting.